August 2014 On-Duty Deaths in Detail

 

Crashes claim the majority of these volunteers

whas11crashvideo

 

The following information is a breakdown of the details of those members in the fire service who died while operating “on-duty” as defined by the United States Fire Administration. For more information on this definition and that of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s definition of “line of duty death” read “On Duty & Line of Duty: What Is the Difference?” The information presented is not meant to distract from the emotional toll felt by the families and coworkers. It is instead meant to remind us to look greater at the record of fatalities and in comparison to previous years as well as be a measure of substance when used in discussions.

August only saw five firefighter fatalities for the month, beginning on 5 August with the death of a volunteer assistant chief in a building collapse. In Indiana during a fire in a commercial building, the 40-year old victim [1] was killed when the roof of a commercial building collapsed as he and others were setting up a unmanned hoseline inside the structure [2]. His death would be the first involving building collapse during a fire, in 2014.

Training was the activity that claimed the second firefighter fatality for the month. On 6 August a 46-year old volunteer safety officer died at home due to a heart attack, four hours after participating in fire department training in Montana [3]. Also on 6 August, in Kentucky, a 25-year old volunteer firefighter was struck and killed while working at a vehicle fire on the side of a interstate [4]. He and his firefighter mother were both struck when a tractor-trailer hit fire apparatus [5].

A POV-related crash claimed the fourth victim of the month. On 13 August a 56-year old Nebraska volunteer firefighter and chaplain was killed when his vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree, while responding to a fire [6]. The victim passed away three days after the incident. Local news reports that it is believed a medical emergency may have been the cause of the crash.

The final fatality of August also involved a vehicle crash. On 13 August a volunteer Montana fire chief died a month after being involved in a collision between apparatus responding to a grass fire [7]. The 66-year old victim was operating a tanker that collided with a brush truck and overturned. He is the ninth fire chief to die while on-duty, and the fifth one involving apparatus accidents by the end of August.

 

Data in Detail

(Number in parentheses is YTD as of posting)

Deaths involving Disorientation: 0

Deaths involving Building Collapse during Fire: 1 (Indiana)

Deaths involving Flashover, Backdraft, Explosive Incident: 0 (5) (Toledo: 2) (Boston: 2) (New York: 1)

Boston “became trapped by fire conditions”

New York, implied to have been burned while trapped

Deaths in 1- and 2-Family Dwellings: 0 (1)

Deaths in Multi-Family Dwellings: 0 (4) (Toledo: 2) (Boston: 2) (New York: 1)

Deaths in Educational, Institutional, Commercial and Industrial Occupancies: 1  (2) (New Jersey, Indiana)

1: Fall from roof of restaurant while performing ventilation (New Jersey)

Deaths in Vacant/Abandoned Structures: 0

Multi-Fatality Incidents: 0 (2)

Boston, MA: 2 victims

Toledo, OH: 2 victims

 

Nature of Death

Asphyxiation: 0

Burns: 0 (3)

Cerebrovascular Accident: 0 (1)

Crushed: 0 (1)

Drowning: 0

Exposure: 0

Heart Attack: 1 (27)

Not Stated: 0 (1)

Other: 0 (3)

Trauma: 3 (10)

Unknown: 1 (9)

 

Cause of Death

Assault: 0 (1)

Caught/Trapped: 0 (5)

Collapse: 1

Exposure: 0

Fall: 0 (3)

Lost: 0

Other: 0 (1)

Stress/Overexertion: 1 (30)

Struck by: 0 (1)

Trauma: 0

Vehicle Collision: 2 (7)

Unknown: 1 (6)

 

Average Age: 46

Youngest: 25

Oldest: 66

Firefighters 65 years old or older at time of death: 1 (4)

Volunteer firefighter 19-years old or younger who died responding to alarm or station: 0

 

Volunteer: 5 (33)

Career: 0 (25)

(1 victim listed as Wildland Full-Time)

 

Rank/Position

Fire Chief: 1 (9)

Deputy Chief: 0 (1)

Assistant Chief: 1 (5)

Battalion Chief: 0 (1)

Major: 0

Captain: 0 (7)

Lieutenant: 0 (7)

Safety Officer: 1

Fire Crew Supervisor: 0 (1)

Firefighter: 2 (20)

1: Wildland Full-Time

Firefighter/Ranger/Wildfire Contracted: 0

Pilot: 0 (1)

Recruit/Trainee: 0

Driver/Operator/Engineer: 0 (2)

Fire-Police: 0

Department of Defense: 0

Chaplain: 0 (1)

 

Deaths Involving Lack of Seatbelt Use: 0 (2)

Deaths Involving Apparatus Accidents: 1 (5)

 

Fireground Assignment/Activity at Time of Death

Incident Command: 0 (1)

(Brush/Grass or Other Outdoor Fire (excluding Wildland): 1)

Fire Attack: 0 (2)

Advancing Hoseline:1 (6)

1: Victim was setting up unmanned line inside commercial structure fire

1: listed as such but narrative says fell ill while working at scene and news report says was outside of building

3: During residential fire (Boston, Houston)

(1: During outdoor fire)

Search: 0 (4)

Deaths where occupants were known to be out of fire structure: 0

(1: Victim killed in secondary collapse while evacuating occupants)

Extrication: 0 (1)

Vent (Roof): 0 (1)

(1: Commercial structure (restaurant))

Pump Operations: 0 (1)

Water Supply: 0 (1)

Overhaul/Salvage: 0

On Scene: 1 (3)

Driving/Operating Vehicle/Apparatus: 2 (4)

Death As a Result of EMS Exposure: 0

 

Deaths Which Occurred During Training: 1 (7)

1: Victim died of heart attack at home four hours after physical training

Department of Defense, Military fire-service LODDs: 0

Deaths Linked to 11 September 2001: 0

 

Deaths Which Occurred Outside the “Traditional” Line of Duty Definition: 1 (27)

1: Victim died of heart attack at home four hours after physical training

 

It is always important to reiterate that the discussion of the details in the reporting of these deaths is not meant to diminish the loss. Each number is a person mourned by a family, friends and coworkers. What is intended in this and related writing is that it is important for the fire service to be aware of the details in our on-duty death numbers. Blindly saying that 100 or so firefighters die each year, as well as saying “we’ve lost too many” each time a fatality occurs is turning a blind eye to the data. By understanding the details in the recording we can be more aware of trends, both good and bad, in our efforts to reduce these fatalities.

 

References

1. Jamie Middlebrook, New Carlisle Fire Department

2. Indiana Firefighter Shares Details of Fatal Collapse, FireRescue Magazine/FirefighterNation.com, August 2014

3. Douglas James Casson, Vaughn Volunteer Fire Department

4. Jonathan French, Glendale Fire Department

5. Kentucky Firefighter Killed, another Injured in Collision, FireRescue Magazine/FirefighterNation, August 2014

6. Darrell Parker, Fairbury Rural Fire Department

7. Dave Anderson, Fort Shaw Fire Department

 

Related

January 2014 On-Duty Deaths in Detail

February 2014 On-Duty Deaths in Detail

March 2014 On-Duty Deaths in Detail

April 2014 On-Duty Deaths in Detail

May 2014 On-Duty Deaths in Detail

June 2014 On-Duty Deaths in Detail

July 2014 On-Duty Deaths in Detail

 

Photo: WHAS video image

 

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BioPicBill Carey is the online public safety news and blog manager with PennWell Public Safety, or more specifically FireRescue Magazine/FirefighterNation.com, JEMS.com, LawOfficer.com and FireEMSBlogs.com. Bill started in the fire service, as a third generation firefighter in 1986, on the eastern shore of Maryland and then continued after moving to Prince George’s County. He served as a volunteer sergeant and lieutenant at Hyattsville. Bill’s writing has been on Firehouse.com, Fire Engineering, FireRescue Magazine, FirefighterNation.com, the Jones and Bartlett 2010 edition of “Fire Officer: Principles and Practice”, The Secret List and Tinhelmet.com. His recent writing on firefighter behavioral health has been nominated for 2014 Neal Award for Best Subject-Related Series.

 

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