NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Program Reports

Airport Fire Fighter Suffers Cardiac Death While Performing Airport Runway Check—Alabama

On January 8, 2013, a 33-year-old male career airport fire fighter suffered a sudden cardiac death while performing duties during a 12-hour overtime shift. During the day, the victim and a crew member performed various duties at the airport. In the late afternoon, the victim and a crew member checked for animals, debris, and inoperable lights on the runway when the victim suddenly collapsed. To address general safety and health issues, the NIOSH investigators identified the importance of providing preplacement and annual medical evaluations, having fire fighters cleared for return to duty by a physician knowledgeable about firefighting, phasing in a mandatory comprehensive wellness and fitness program for fire fighters, performing a preplacement and an annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluation for all members, and providing fire fighters with a medical clearance program.

Volunteer Captain Dies While Participating in Advanced Dive Training—Ohio

On August 10, 2012, a 46-year-old male volunteer captain drowned while attempting to complete an advanced underwater diving course at a county park. The course consisted of two dives and focused on underwater navigation using a compass. The victim experienced buoyancy problems during both dives. During the second dive, the victim and his partner attempted to surface because the victim was low on air. When the victim surfaced, his buoyancy compensator was not inflated, and he was out of air and appeared to be in a panic. The victim’s partner got him under control and began to drag him to the dock. The victim became unconscious, and due to an over-weighted dive belt, his partner was not able to hold onto the victim and he sank to the bottom and drowned. Some of the contributing factors in this incident included insufficient dive training/experience, an over-weighted dive belt, and the lack of medical screening.