Career Probationary Fire Fighter and Captain Die as a Result of Rapid Fire Progression in a Wind-Driven Residential Structure Fire

Report Date: April 2008

A firefighter and a fire officer lost their lives when they were trapped by rapid fire progression during a wind-driven fire in a one-story ranch house in Texas in 2009. NIOSH determined that high winds contributed to rapid fire growth where the interior crews were operating. Seven other firefighters were able to exit the structure, but the two victims were unable to escape. Additional investigations by NIST provided insight on the thermal conditions in the fire. Based on simulation with the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS), a wind-driven flow path was created throughout the building, leading to rapidly increased temperatures where interior crews were operating. The simulation results emphasize the importance of considering wind conditions and adjusting tactics before beginning and while performing firefighting operations. 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 of Standards and Technology

    The NIST Fire Research Division develops, verifies, and utilizes measurements and predictive methods to quantify the behavior of fire and means to reduce the impact of fire on people, property, and the environment. This work involves integration of laboratory measurements, verified methods of prediction, and large-scale fire experiments to demonstrate the use and value of the research products.

    Through its programs in measurement, prediction, systems integration, and the dynamics of fire and its interactions with the built and natural environment, the division provides leadership for advancing the theory and practice of fire safety engineering, fire fighting, fire investigation, fire testing, fire data management, and intentional burning.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Career Probationary Fire Fighter and Captain Die as a Result of Rapid Fire Progression in a Wind-Driven Residential Structure Fire - Texas. Morgantown, WV: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH Report # F2009-11, 2011. Print. 

Barowy, Adam and Daniel Madrzykowski. Simulation of the Dynamics of a Wind-Driven Fire in a Ranch-Style House - Texas. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute for Standards and Technology, NIST Technical Note 1729, 2012. Print.

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