A NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has declared the lack of a system to alert the Fire Department to hazardous buildings and the lack of personal firefighter radios for each firefighter as contributing factors in the deaths of Chicago career firefighters Edward Stringer, 47, and Corey Ankum, 34, who were killed, and 19 other firefighters, who were injured.
The fire response to a building fire was dispatched at 6:48 a.m. on Wednesday December 22, 2010. The building collapse was reported with a “Mayday” for a building collapse at 7:07 a.m. Wednesday. Neither victim was carrying a fire department radio at the time of the incident. The medical examiner listed the cause of death as compressional asphyxia due to the roof collapse. In other words they could not breathe and expand their chest because of the weights of the roof on their chests’. The first firefighter fatal victim was transported to the hospital at 7:24 a.m. The second firefighter fatal victim was transported at 7:31 a.m. after firefighters became aware he was still missing and had to cut through roof materials to free him. His Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) device was activated when he was found.
According to the NISOH report, the following companies were dispatched to the initial report of a structure fire through the time of the collapse per department policy:
(E-72; Lieutenant, driver, 3 fire fighters) – all assigned to 1st Platoon
Tower Ladder 34:
(TL-34; Lieutenant (relief officer), driver, 3 fire fighters including Victim # 2) -Victim # 2 was finishing up his shift on 3rd Platoon and had not yet been relieved.
(E-126; Lieutenant, driver, 3 fire fighters) – Lieutenant was just starting work on 1st Platoon; the rest of the crew were 3rd Platoon fire fighters.
(T-49; Lieutenant, driver, 3 fire fighters) – Lieutenant and two fire fighters were just starting work on 1st Platoon. The driver and the other fire fighter were finishing up work on the 3rd Platoon.
Battalion Chief 23:
(BC-23 – initial Incident Commander)
(T-16; Lieutenant, driver, 3 fire fighters including Victim # 1)
(SQD5; Officer and five fire fighters ) Note: A squad consists of one heavy rescue and a 55′ Snorkel with a pump; Staffing is an officer and three fire fighters on the heavy rescue and two fire fighters on the Snorkel.
Battalion Chief 18
(EMS Field Officer)
Still and Box Alarm
(E-63; Lieutenant, driver, 3 fire fighters)
(T-30; Lieutenant, driver, 3 fire fighters)
Battalion Chief 17
Battalion Chief 22
Six contributing factors were listed related to the deaths of the firefighters and the injuries to the firefighters:
1. Lack of an abandoned/hazardous building marking program within the city
2. Vacant/hazardous building information not part of automatic dispatch system
3. Dilapidated condition of the structure
4. Dispatch occurred during shift change resulting in fragmented crews
5. Weather conditions including snow accumulation on roof and frozen water hydrants
6. Not all fire fighters equipped with radios.
Eleven recommendations were recommended to all fire department from the experience of Chicago Fire Department:
Recommendation #1: Fire departments and city building departments should work together to identify and mark buildings that present hazards to fire fighters and the public.
Recommendation #2: Fire departments should use risk management principles at all structure fires and especially abandoned or vacant unsecured structures.
Recommendation # 3: Fire departments should train fire fighters to communicate interior conditions to the Incident Commander as soon as possible and to provide regular updates.
Recommendation # 4: Fire departments should consider providing battalion chiefs with a staff assistant or chief’s aide to help manage information and communication.
Recommendation # 5: Fire departments should provide all fire fighters with radios and train them on their proper use.
Recommendation # 6: Fire departments should develop, train on and enforce the use of standard operating procedures that specifically address operations in abandoned and vacant structures.
Recommendation # 7: Fire departments should develop, implement and enforce a detailed Mayday Doctrine to ensure that fire fighters can effectively declare a Mayday.
Recommendation # 8: Fire departments should ensure that the Incident Commander maintains close accountability for all personnel operating on the fireground
Recommendation # 9: Fire departments should ensure that fire fighters are trained in fireground survival procedures.
Recommendation #10: Fire departments should ensure that all fire fighters are trained in and understand the hazards associated with bowstring truss construction.
Recommendation # 11: Fire departments should ensure that fire fighters wear a full array of turnout clothing and personal protective equipment appropriate for the assigned task while participating in fire suppression and overhaul activities.
Full Report from CDC/NIOSH …