On-Duty Death Followup: No Medical Evaluation for Mississippi Firefighter


57-year old victim suffered heart attack while atop engine



The “On-Duty Deaths in Detail” posts will be partnered with posts providing NIOSH followup to the Unites States Fire Administration firefighter fatality announcement. Since it is common practice culturally that the majority of NIOSH firefighter fatality reports to be shared are ones involving firefighting, we’ll work to make readers aware of those involving the majority causes and natures of our on-duty deaths. This information may be subject to change.


Victim with known risk factors for coronary heart disease engaged in physical firefighting operations with mutual aid fire department and was found unresponsive atop fire engine hosebed. Victim was placed in bed of pickup truck and driven to ambulance station, while CPR was being performed. ALS measures began once victim was transferred to EMS crew and continued while at hospital where victim was pronounced dead. No autopsy was performed. Fire department does not require preplacement or annual medical evaluations. Fire department has no requirement for medical clearance of injured members, no requirement for medical clearance to wear respirator and no annual SCBA fit-test. Fire department has no wellness or fitness program, no in-station exercise equipment and no required annual job performance physical ability test. The victim did not participate in physical fitness activities.


On 1 February 2014 a 57-year old volunteer firefighter suffered a heart attack while working with a mutual aid fire department at a grass fire that he had discovered and reported to 911. His death was the 10th on-duty death of the year and the second of the month.

NIOSH Report

Approximately 1200 hours, victim notices grass fire and threatened exposures (one a residential structure) and calls 911. Local fire department is dispatched as well as a mutual aid department (victim’s department).

@1252 hours: First engine arrives (staffing unknown). Victim assists engine company by operating a 1 ½-inch hoseline for @20 minutes (PPE use unknown). Hoselines are broken down and victim assists with reloading hoselines before moving to another spot on fireground. After extinguishing fire at second spot, victim climbs to top of hosebed to help load hose, @1320 hours.

The engine was driven to another spot and the crew began to stretch hoselines, but was redirected to a third location. The victim again climbed onto the hosebed to help repack hose. Later it was noticed that the hoseline was not being pulled and the victim was found unresponsive and not breathing, at 1341 hours. An ambulance was immediately called for.

Mutual aid chief (victim’s chief), also a paramedic, began CPR. Victim was placed into the bed of a pickup truck and driven to the ambulance station.

1352 hours: Victim arrives at ambulance station, is transferred to EMS crew and into an ambulance as ALS measures are begun. 1412 hours: Ambulance arrives at hospital. 1424 hours: Victim is pronounced dead.

Cause of Death, Autopsy

“Sudden cardiac death due to stress/overexertion at fire scene due to intentionally set fire due to hypertensive heart disease,” according to the county coroner. Victim had minimal exposure to carbon monoxide (fire smoke). No autopsy was performed.


57-year old male, diagnosed with high blood pressure and treated in 1990 with medication, exercise and weight-loss diet.


The fire department requires volunteer fire fighter applicants to be 18 years of age, have a valid state driver’s license, pass a background check, and pass a membership vote. Preplacement and annual medical evaluations are not required by the fire department. The fire department does not have a requirement for return to duty medical clearance for members injured on duty, medical clearance to wear a respirator, or an annual self-contained breathing apparatus facepiece fit test.

The fire department does not have a wellness/fitness program, and exercise equipment is not available in the fire station. An annual job performance physical ability test is not required for members. The victim did not participate in physical fitness activities.


NIOSH offers the following:

Provide preplacement and annual medical evaluations to all fire fighters in accordance with NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments, to identify fire fighters at increased risk for coronary heart disease (CHD).

Ensure exercise stress tests are performed on fire fighters at increased risk for CHD.

Ensure that fire fighters are cleared for return to duty by a physician knowledgeable about the physical demands of fire fighting, the personal protective equipment used by fire fighters, and the components of NFPA 1582.

Phase in a mandatory comprehensive wellness and fitness program for fire fighters.

Perform a candidate and member physical ability evaluation.

Provide fire fighters with medical clearance to wear a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) as part of the fire department’s medical evaluation program.

Conduct annual respirator fit testing.

Perform an autopsy on all on-duty fire fighter fatalities.

Contrast with USFA

There are no contrasts with the on-duty death notification. The victim’s Activity Type is listed as Advancing Hoselines while operating at a Outdoor Property Fire.





February 2014 On-Duty Deaths in Detail, BackstepFirefighter.com


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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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