Career Fire Lieutenant Dies in Cluttered Apartment Fire on 19th Floor of High-rise Residential Apartment Building – New York

Report Date: July 2016

On July 5, 2014, an FDNY fire officer lost his life when he was operating in an apartment fire and was overcome by rapidly changing fire conditions. The fire officer and crew arrived on scene and reported fire visible from the upper floors of the 21-story apartment complex. The truck crew, along with an engine crew, took the elevator to the 17th floor and progressed to the 19th floor with the reported fire apartment. No smoke was evident in the 19th floor hallway. The officer and his crew entered the apartment to locate the fire. The excessive clutter in the apartment made it difficult to progress through. Crews found smoke in the apartment, but no heat or fire. The fire was started by an overheated extension cord. As it continued to smolder, crews noticed smoke banking down halfway to the floor. The fire developed in a back bedroom and the crew advanced the hose line towards it, slowly due to the clutter. At this point, fire could be seen venting from the apartment window. With fire rolling overhead, the crew began to apply water outside of the bedroom. As conditions deteriorated, the firefighters exited the apartment, unknowingly with the first crew’s officer still inside. The officer transmitted a Mayday that was not heard by everybody on scene. The crews then continued in to extinguish the fire and found the officer. This NIOSH report details the events of the incident and provides recommendations based on the investigation. 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 Lieutenant Dies in Cluttered Apartment Fire on 19th Floor of High-rise Residential Apartment Building – New York. Morgantown, WV: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH Report #F2014-14, 2016. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/pdfs/face201414.pdf. 

Image Credit: Michael Graae for New York Daily News
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