NIOSH: Lack of Collapse Zone Factor in '19 LODD

Nov. 22, 2023
Godfrey Fire Protection District Capt. Jacob Ringering, 37, was killed when a brick gable collapsed

The lack of a collapse zone and situational awareness are among the factors that NIOSH investigators have listed as factors in the death of an Illinois fire captain in 2019.

Godfrey Fire Protection District Capt. Jacob 'Jake' Ringering, 37, was killed and three other firefighters were injured when a brick gable collapsed on them. 

When crews arrived, they found heavy fire and a partial roof collapse. The residents were outside, but several pets in cages were still in the house,  according to NIOSH investigators. 

"The assistant chief from FD 22 then became concerned about the stability of the Side Bravo bricked gable rafter which extended to the roof ridge. The roof supporting the gable had burned away. These concerns were voiced to the Side Bravo/Charlie sector chief who felt the brick wall supporting the gable looked stable with no bulging, bowing, cracking, or spooling. Therefore, no collapse zone was established," the report read.

Investigators were not able to ascertain if the incident commander was made aware of the concerns.

"...The roof’s triangular brick gable rafter suddenly “tipped over” falling as a single sheet onto the driveway; a perimeter collapse. The gable fell approximately 21 feet before striking four firefighters from E1412 and E2212 working to open the garage door on Side Bravo..."

Ringering was unconscious and unresponsive when he was removed from the debris. Fellow responders immediately initiated CPR. He was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

After interviews with firefighters present and examining the scene, investigators determined the following were contributing factors:

  • Lack of a collapse zone
  • Lack of situational awareness
  • Incomplete scene size-up
  • Incomplete risk assessment and incident action plan
  • Incomplete duties of command safety
  • Task saturation of the IC
  • Lack of an IC aide
  • Lack of an incident safety officer
  • Inadequate water supply
  • Inconsistent live fire training among volunteer firefighters
  • Lack of a personnel accountability system




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