Career Battalion Chief and Career Master Fire Fighter Die and Twenty Nine Career Fire Fighters are Injured During a Five Alarm Church Fire - Pennsylvania

Report Date: January 2006

On March 13, 2004, a fire officer and a firefighter lost their lives and 23 other firefighters and fire officers suffered injuries from a bell tower collapse during a church fire in Pennsylvania. Prior to the collapse, six other firefighters and fire officers were injured during a major backdraft in the church. Initial crew found heavy smoke conditions in the basement, but were unable to locate the fire. Crews reported seeing dark yellow and puffing smoke as they ventilated the building and searched for the fire. As oxygen was introduced to the smoldering fire, a backdraft occurred injuring the six firefighters and fire officers. Following the backdraft, the building was evacuated and tactics were switched to a defensive attack, from the exterior. After the fire was under control, crews were redeployed into the building for overhaul. During overhaul, the bell tower collapsed, trapping the two victims and injuring 23 others. The victims succumbed to their injuries at the scene. These investigations should be used to learn from tragedy in an effort to avoid similar losses in the future. 

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  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

    Each year an average of 100 firefighters in the United States die in the line of duty. To address this continuing national occupational fatality problem, NIOSH conducts independent investigations of firefighter line of duty deaths. This web page provides access to NIOSH investigation reports and other fire fighter safety resources.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Career Battalion Chief and Career Master Fire Fighter Die and Twenty Nine Career Fire Fighters are Injured During a Five Alarm Church Fire - Pennsylvania. Morgantown, WV: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH Report #F2004-17, 2006. Print. 

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