Fatal Rescue Attempt Prompts NIOSH Recommendations to Prevent Firefighter Deaths
To help prevent on-duty deaths of firefighters, NIOSH recommends that fire departments develop, implement, and enforce occupational safety and health programs in accordance with NFPA 1500, Standard for a Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program. This and other key recommendations to the fire service are included in a NIOSH report on the death of a volunteer firefighter who was struck and killed by a collapsing cell phone tower while trying to rescue an injured construction worker.
NIOSH found that lack of training for the specific incident response, lack of situational awareness, and lack of an incident safety officer were contributing factors in the firefighter’s death. According to the agency, fire departments should ensure that firefighters are trained in situational awareness, personal safety, and accountability. NIOSH also notes that fire departments should develop pre-incident plans for deployment to technical rescue incidents and ensure that a separate incident safety officer is appointed at these incidents to assess the scene for hazards or potential hazards.
The agency’s report is part of the NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, which examines line-of-duty deaths of firefighters to help the fire service and others prevent similar deaths in the future. For more information, see the full report.