February 2015 On-Duty Deaths in Detail

 

Three dead due to vehicles and one in a structural collapse

Feb2015LODDs


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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.

This month we have three victims struck by vehicles, one of which involved fire apparatus. We also have the first fatality involving a structural collapse during a fire, as well as with occupants accounted for upon the fire department’s arrival. None of the victims were younger than 46. The oldest was 74 years old. Heart attack was the leading cause of death. Stress/Overexertion and Struck by were the leading nature of death.

February 2015 started, in recording firefighter fatalities, with the death of an elderly volunteer in New York. A 74-year old member of the Montgomery Volunteer Fire Department was struck and killed by a vehicle as he was directing traffic in front of his firehouse [1]. The victim, listed as a fire-policeman by local media, was struck on 10 January by a minivan as apparatus were leaving to standby at another firehouse [2].

Struck by a vehicle is also the cause of death for the second fatality of February. On 5 February a 59-year old volunteer fire chief in Illinois was struck by fire apparatus on the scene of an EMS call [3]. The victim and other firefighters had responded to a call for a person with a leg fracture. During the course of treatment it was decided that the patient would be flown from the scene by a helicopter. Apparatus was being moved in an attempt to block to roadway for a landing zone when the victim was struck [4].

Another elderly volunteer firefighter died early in the month. A 67-year old West Virginia firefighter collapsed and died from a heart attack as he was bringing a patient into the emergency room of a local hospital [5].

On 11 February we saw our first on-duty death involving structural collapse on a scene where all occupants were accounted for. In Macon-Bibb County, Georgia, a 46-year old career lieutenant was one of six firefighters caught in a floor collapse during an early evening house fire [6]. For the purpose of greater detail, readers will notice that I’ve broken down the deaths involving collapse category. Another fatality in the following month will also involve structural collapse.

Officials were quick to provide initial details of the incident, which noted the conditions upon arrival [7] and the report on occupants [8]. Almost an hour after arrival firefighters in the area of the front door were caught in a floor collapse. A later news report stated that the victim and others were directed to ventilate the basement fire by opening up the floor [9]. The victim’s Cause and Nature of death are listed as Collapse and Burns. His activity type is Advancing Hose Lines/Fire Attack.

A third firefighter was struck and killed by a vehicle in February. On 15 February a 52-year old volunteer South Carolina sergeant was hit by a vehicle that drove around a vehicle accident scene. The driver was operating under the influence [10].

On 18 February a Minnesota firefighter died from an unknown cause while responding to an EMS call [11]. The contrast between data and news is shown in a local story. While USFA data has the victim as Responding, the Minnesota Stat Fire Department Association reports that the victim was found unresponsive of the floor of his garage [12]. This range of “Responding” highlights the importance of greater reading of details of our fatalities.

The Houston Fire Department suffered an on-duty death on 21 February. Earlier, on the 19th, a fire captain fell ill after working at the scene of a residential structure fire where people were reported to be trapped [13]. The 57-year old career line officer walked out of the structure under his own power but collapsed shortly thereafter. He spent two days in critical condition at a local hospital [14]. The victim’s activity type is Advancing Hose Lines/Fire Attack.

The final firefighter fatality of February is of a 48-year old Pennsylvania volunteer [15]. On 5 November 2014, the victim suffered a heart attack while at the scene of a combination grass, brush, and trash and garage fire [16]. He never fully recovered.

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.

Data in Detail

(Number in parentheses is YTD as of posting)

Deaths involving Disorientation: 0

Deaths involving Flashover, Backdraft, Explosive Incident: 0

Deaths Involving Residential Structural Collapse during Fire: 1 (1)

  • Victim inside Structure: 1 (1)
    •  Floor Collapse: 1 (1)
  • Victim outside Structure: 0

Deaths Involving Commercial Structural Collapse during Fire: 0

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

Deaths in Multi-Family Dwellings: 0

Deaths in Educational, Institutional, Commercial and Industrial Occupancies: 0

Deaths in Vacant/Abandoned Structures: 0

 

Multi-Fatality Incidents: 0

 

Nature of Death

Asphyxiation: 0

Burns: 1 (1)

Cerebrovascular Accident: 0 (1)

Crushed: 1 (1)

Drowning: 0

Electrocution: 0

Exposure: 0

Heart Attack: 3 (4)

Not Stated: 0

Other: 0

Trauma: 2 (2)

Unknown: 1 (5)

 

Cause of Death

Assault: 0

Caught/Trapped: 0

Collapse: 1 (1)

Contact With: 0

Exposure: 0

Fall: 0

Lost: 0

Other: 0

Stress/Overexertion: 3 (5)

Struck by: 3 (3)

Trauma: 0

Vehicle Collision: 0

Unknown: 1 (5)

 

Average Age: 56

Youngest: 52

Oldest: 74

Firefighters 65 years old or older at time of death: 2 (2) (74, 67)

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

 

Volunteer: 6 (9)

Career: 2 (5)

  • Paid on Call: 0 (1)

 

Rank/Position

County Fire Coordinator: 0

Fire Chief: 1 (1)

Deputy Chief: 0

Assistant Chief: 0 (1)

Battalion Chief: 0 (1)

Major: 0

Captain: 1 (2)

Lieutenant: 1 (1)

  • GA, 11 Februrary, USFA has no listing of rank. Department information lists victim as “lieutenant”

Sergeant: 1 (1)

Safety Officer: 0

Fire Crew Supervisor: 0

Firefighter: 4 (6)

  • NY: Victim listed as Firefighter by USFA; Fire-Police by local media

Firefighter/Ranger/Wildfire Contracted: 0

Pilot: 0

Recruit/Trainee: 0

Driver/Operator/Engineer: 0

Fire-Police: 0

Fire Marshal: 0

Department of Defense: 0

Chaplain: 0

 

Deaths Involving Lack of Seatbelt Use: 0

Deaths Involving Apparatus Accidents: 1 (1)

 

Fireground Assignment/Activity at Time of Death

Incident Command: 0

 

Fire Attack: 3 (3)

  • Advancing Hoseline: 3 (3)
    • 1: Georgia, Victim caught in floor collapse during basement fire
    • 1: Houston, Victim had walked out of structure before collapsing
    • 1: Pennsylvania, Heart attack during grass, garage fire
  • Search: 0

 

Deaths where occupants were known to be out of fire structure: 1 (1)

  • Macon-Bib County, GA 11 February 2015

 

Extrication: 0

Vent (Roof): 0

Pump Operations: 0

Water Supply: 0

Overhaul/Salvage: 0

On Scene: 0

Scene Safety: 2 (2)

Support: 1

 

EMS/Patient Care: 1 (1)

Driving/Operating Vehicle/Apparatus: 0

Death As a Result of EMS Exposure: 0

 

Deaths Which Occurred During Training: 0 (1)

(1: Victim suffered a heart attack during SCBA 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: 3 (6)

1: Victim was struck by a vehicle in front of firehouse while directing traffic as a company left on a transfer

1: Victim suffered a fatal heart attack while bringing a patient into the hospital

1: Victim found on floor of garage after being alerted to EMS call

 

Previous (Jan.)

1: Victim died several hours after responding to an alarm

1: Victim died in his sleep at home, several hours after responding to an alarm

1: Victim died at home several hours after a commercial structure fire

 

Photo courtesy of WMAZ video

Related

January 2015 On-Duty Deaths in Detail

References

  1. Charlie V. Wallace, Montgomery Volunteer Fire Department
  2. “Hundreds Turn Out to Mourn Fire Policeman Charles Wallace” Richard J. Bayne, Times Herald-Record, 7 February 2015
  3. Kenneth Lehr, Medora Community Fire Protection District
  4. “Medora, Ill., Fire Chief Killed after Fire Truck Backs into Him” Valerie Schremp Hahn, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5 February 2015
  5. Garry Rose, McMeechen Volunteer Fire Department
  6. Randy Parker, Macon-Bibb County Fire Department
  7. “Floor Collapse Kills Georgia Lieutenant, Injures Five Others in House Fire” FireRescue Staff, FireRescue Magazine/FirefighterNation.com 12 February 2015 “It was a single story brick structure that was fully involved by the time the first company arrived at 5:51.”
  1. Ibid “The initial company responding included two engines, two aerials, a Battalion Chief, and a rescue unit. Upon arrival, it was noted all occupants of the structure were already out of the house.”
  2. “Fallen Macon-Bibb Firefighter Told Men: ‘Let’s Go Do This’” Joe Kovac Jr. The Telegraph, 16 February 2015
    “A chief at the Feb. 11 fire on Fairview Drive south of Rocky Creek Road asked Parker and some other men to punch a hole in the floor of the house. Heat trapped in the basement needed venting.”
  3. Kenneth M. Stanton, Sandy Springs Fire Department
  4. Randy Hiti, Rice Lake Fire Department
  5. “Rice Lake Township Firefighter Died from Unknown Illness” AP/CBS Minnesota, 23 February 2015
  6. Dwight W. Bazile, Houston Fire Department
  7. “Veteran Houston Captain Dies after Fire” Houston Chronicle/FireRescue Magazine, FirefighterNation.com 22 February 2015
  8. Edward Roddy, Somerset Volunteer Fire Department
  9. “Autopsy Set on Firefighter Stricken during Garage Fire” WTAE, 24 February 2015

 

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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 was been nominated for 2014 Neal Award for Best Subject-Related Series.

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