Fire Instructor I
Poinciana, Florida Live-Fire Training Deaths — July, 2002
NIOSH Report, 2002-34
Florida State Fire Marshal Report
Preventing Deaths and Injuries to Fire Fighters during Live-Fire Training in Acquired Structures, CDC Workplace Solutions — November, 2004
Links to Instructor Resources
Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute Drill of the Month
FirefighterCloseCalls.com Weekly Fire Drills
Career Lieutenant and Fire Fighter Die in a Flashover During a Live-Fire Training Evolution - Florida
On July 30, 2002, a 32-year-old male career Lieutenant (Victim #1) and a 20-year-old male career fire fighter (Victim #2) died while participating in live-fire training. The victims' combination department was leading the training with a career department participating. At approximately 0900 hours, personnel arrived at the training site, and the Instructor-in-Charge/Incident Commander (IC) gave them their assignments. The following personnel, listed according to their assignments, participated in the live-fire training exercise:
Before the start of the training, the IC and the participants walked through the structure so that the IC could give them a preburn briefing (Photo 1 and Figure 1). The IC pointed out the ingress and egress routes, and he told them that a mannequin dressed in fire fighter bunker gear would serve as a simulated rescue victim in the training exercise. He did not tell the participants that the mannequin would be located in the kitchen area. The IC told the participants that the live-fire would be built inside a closet on the northwest corner of the burn room. The participants helped put the fuel-wooden pallets and straw-inside and outside of the closet.
At approximately 1010 hours, the Ignition Officer/Interior Safety used a road flare to ignite the items in the closet and radioed the IC that the fire had been lit. When the Ignition Officer/Interior Safety left the burn room, the live-fire was producing some flames, and the smoke had diminished visibility in the room (Photo 2). To produce a larger fire, some of the fire fighters retrieved a twin-size mattress from another bedroom and put it on the live-fire in the burn room.
The Ignition Officer/Interior Safety and one of the participants who was acting as Interior Safety assumed their position in the hallway outside the burn room while the other two Interior Safety fire fighters staged in the living room. At approximately 1011 hours, the Ignition Officer/Interior Safety radioed the IC that they were ready to begin the first training evolution. The IC ordered the search and rescue team (Victim #1 and Victim # 2) to enter the structure.
Victim #1 and Victim #2 crawled through the front door (A-side) and performed a right-hand search to look for the simulated victim. A very brief time later, after receiving orders from the IC, the crew on Attack Line #1 entered the structure through the front door (A-side) with a charged 1¾-inch hoseline.
While Victim #1 and Victim #2 were conducting a search of the living room where two of the interior safety fire fighters were positioned, Victim #1 was overheard giving instructions on searching techniques to Victim #2. After both of the victims performed their search in the living room, they crawled down the hallway to the burn room, followed by one of the interior safety fire fighters from the living room. Note: Conditions in the structure at this time were heavy smoke with very little visibility.
As both victims were conducting their search, one of the victims collided with one of the interior safety fire fighters in the hallway outside the burn room. The interior safety fire fighter in the hallway identified himself to the victims as one of the interior safety personnel and instructed them to continue their search. The interior safety fire fghter that had followed both of the victims from the living room into the hallway told one of the other interior safety fire fighters in the hallway outside the burn room that he was going to look for the crew with the first attack line. Victim #1 was overheard in the burn room asking Victim #2 if the entire room had been searched and receiving an affirmative response.
As the interior safety fire fighter went back down the hallway to look for the first attack line crew, he encountered them entering the hallway, and he told them to put some water on the fire. He then headed back toward the burn room followed by the crew from Attack Line #1. Once he reached the section of hallway outside the burn room, he asked one of the interior safety fire fighters in that area for the location of both victims. Receiving a reply that they were out, he then asked a second time if both victims were out of the burn room and received an affirmative response. He left to search for both the victims in the bedrooms on the B-Side and the kitchen on the C-Side.
At approximately 1013 hours, the IC radioed Attack Line #1 that the window in the burn room was going to be vented, and the exterior ventilation person broke out the window. When the window (56 inches in height by 42½ inches in width and made of ¼-inch-thick plate glass) was vented, it emitted very heavy black smoke followed a few seconds later by intense flames. According to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, and the fire analysis performed by NIST, a flashoverc is believed to have occurred in the burn room after the window was broken. Note: According to NIST, the fire analysis of the incident indicates that the gases were so fuel rich in the burn room that it took the fire seconds to mix with the oxygen and flashover. Attack Line #1, positioned at the doorway of the burn room, began applying water in short-flow increments into the room. At approximately 1014 hours, the IC ordered the crew of Attack Line #2 to enter the structure with the second 1¾-inch hoseline. He then attempted to make radio contact with the victims. At approximately 1015 hours, Attack Line #1 radioed the IC that water was being applied to the fire. One of the interior safety fire fighters that was positioned in the hallway outside the burn room began to feel like he was getting steamed as a result of the water being applied to the fire. As he crawled down the hallway, he told the Ignition Officer/Interior safety in that area that he needed to leave. When he entered the living room, visibility improved, and he was able to stand and walk out of the structure. As he exited on the A-Side, he told the IC that he had gotten hot and steamed. At approximately 1016 hours, the IC radioed the crews inside and told them to let him know if the roof needed to be vented. Meanwhile, the exterior ventilation person went to remove a gable vent on the D-Side.
After completing his search for both victims in the bedrooms on the B-side and kitchen on the C-Side, the interior safety fire fighter discovered the simulated rescue mannequin in the kitchen. Realizing that the victims had not performed a search in that area, he left the structure and asked the IC if the victims had come out. Receiving a negative response, he reentered the structure to perform another search for both victims. At approximately 1017 hours, the IC radioed the victims to report in for accountability, with no response. At approximately 1018 hours, the IC attempted to contact the victims again on the radio.
Returning from ventilating the gable on the D-Side, the exterior ventilation fire fighter looked into the burn room window and saw a white helmet lying on the floor. The conditions in the burn room were reported as heavy fire and smoke. He reached into the window and retrieved the helmet, which was within arm's reach, and gave it to the IC. Note: The white helmet caused some confusion because all the participants were wearing yellow helmets. The helmet was yellow, but exposure to the heat had turned it white. After experiencing a lot of heat and getting steamed, the Ignition Officer/Interior Safety assigned to the hallway outside the burn room exited the structure. He informed the IC of the intense heat, told the IC that he did not know the location of the victims, and advised that a personnel accountability report (PAR) needed to be done.
At approximately 1019 hours, the IC called on the radio to ask who was missing a helmet. An interior safety fire fighter assigned to the living room radioed a request to the IC for D-Side to be ventilated. The IC directed ventilation to be performed by the exterior ventilation fire fighter, who interpreted the request as C-Side and ventilated that side. The IC radioed a request for status reports from Attack Lines #1 and #2 and the victims. At approximately 1020 hours, Attack Line #2 entered the burn room and radioed that they were applying water on the fire. The IC called by radio for a PAR and sent in the RIT to search for both victims. The RIT entered the structure with the third 1¾-inch hoseline and went to the hallway outside the burn room. At approximately 1021 hours, the IC received a PAR from Attack Lines #1 and #2, but he did not receive any response from the victims. Attack Line #2 radioed the IC that they had knocked down the fire in the burn room and that they did not find any fire extension in the ceiling. The IC radioed Attack Line #2 to ask if they had seen the victims, and they said no. In the hallway the RIT met some fire fighters who informed them that the fire was under control and that the burn room was clear. The number of fire fighters in the hallway made it difficult to move, so one of the RIT members went to the bedrooms on the B-Side and the kitchen area on the C-Side to search for the victims.
At approximately 1023 hours, the IC radioed orders to evacuate the structure and commanded the air-horn blasts to be sounded. After hearing the evacuation air horns, the Attack Line #2 crew began to leave the burn room when they saw what they thought was the simulated mannequin lying facedown on the floor next to the closet where the fire had been ignited. As they attempted to move the mannequin, they realized that it was actually Victim #1. The Ignition Officer/Interior Safety walked over to the A-Side and climbed through the window into the burn room. Note: Conditions in the burn room were reported as white smoke or steam emitting from the floor area.
At approximately 1024 hours, a call was radioed from the burn room to report that a fire fighter was down. The Ignition Officer/Interior Safety, a fire fighter from the RIT, and the crew from Attack Line #2 removed Victim #1 through the window in the burn room. The IC radioed a request for two ambulances to respond to the scene. After inquiring about the location of the other victim, one of the interior safety fire fighters reentered to perform a search. After searching the kitchen and bathroom areas (C-Side), he entered the burn room and shone his flashlight around the room. Observing a helmet lying in the middle of the floor, he went to it and discovered Victim #2 lying on the floor next to the window on A-Side. To get the attention of fire fighters outside, he threw his helmet out the window. Fire fighters outside the structure helped remove Victim #2 through the window. At approximately 1027 hours, the IC radioed to dispatch that they had one fire fighter with burns and another fire fighter being removed from the building. Both of the victims were transported via ambulances to a local hospital where they were pronounced dead
CAUSE OF DEATH
The death certificates listed the cause of death for both victims as smoke inhalation and thermal injuries
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