Career Fire Fighter Dies in Church Fire Following Roof Collapse

Report Date: January 2012

In 2011 in Indiana, a firefighter lost his life at a church fire after the roof collapsed, trapping him in the fire. Visible flames and heavy smoke were observed from roof, but interior crews were faced with light smoke and no visible fire. Conditions quickly changed when areas of the ceiling were opened and the roof was vented in an improper location. Due to the amount of fire above the firefighters, a decision was made to evacuate the building. At the same time, the roof collapsed into the church trapping the victim and injuring others as they existed out of windows and doors. Due to the magnitude of the fire and collapse, the fire department was unable to return to rescue the victim. The NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program performed this analysis, established a sequence of events, and presented contributing factors to this incident. They include the initial size-up, risk management, and coordination of suppression with ventilation efforts. 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 Fire Fighter Dies in Church Fire Following Roof Collapse - Indiana. Morgantown, WV: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH Report # F2011-14, 2012. Print.

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