Lieutenant and Fire Fighter Die and 13 Fire Fighters injured in a Wind-driven Fire in a Brownstone - Massachusetts

Report Date: March 2016

On March 26, 2014, a lieutenant and a firefighter with the Boston Fire Department lost their lives and 13 additional firefighters were injured when fire conditions deteriorated rapidly in a four story Brownstone. The first crew arrived to find smoke on the first floor and reports of smoke and a possible victim in the basement. As the first crew searched the basement with a handline, next arriving crews entered the first floor. There was a sudden change in conditions as black smoke and high heat rapidly vented up the stairs and out of the front door. All firefighters on the first floor suffered burns and were forced to evacuate. Four minutes after arriving on scene, the two firefighters in the basement called a MAYDAY and took refuge in the basement but succumbed to the conditions despite several rescue attempts. As operations continued, there was a collapse and smoke explosion, and operations were changed to defensive.

The investigation found that the fire started in a shed attached to the rear of the basement. The door between the shed and the basement was left open and there were unusually high winds blowing from the rear, allowing the fire to extend into the building. The lack of horizontal and vertical fire-stops in the building allowed the fire to grow and spread in hidden void spaces, unknown to the firefighters. As the front door was left open, a new flow path was created for the fire and the conditions worsened. 

The NIOSH investigation is available to download below and the Boston Fire Department’s investigation can be found here. 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. Lieutenant and Fire Fighter Die and 13 Fire Fighters injured in a Wind-driven Fire in a Brownstone - Massachusetts. Morgantown, WV: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH Report #F2014-09, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.cityofboston.gov/fire/pdfs/nioshbeacon.pdf on 10 March 2016.

Board of Inquiry Report on the Line-of-Duty Deaths on March 26, 2014. Boston, MA: Boston Fire Department. Accessed from http://www.cityofboston.gov/fire/pdfs/boi-fire-march16.pdf on 10 March 2016.

Image Credit: Christopher Evans/The Boston Herald/AP
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