Structure Fire Claims the Lives of Three Career Fire Fighters and Three Children

Report Date: April 2001

In 1999 in Iowa, three firefighters and three children lost their lives at a house fire. The firefighters were dispatched for a residential structure fire with three children trapped inside. With limited staffing, the three firefighter-victims arrived with brown smoke showing and began to search for the children without the protection of a handline. The three firefighters recovered two of the children, and returned to the house to find the third. They did not exit as they were caught in a blast of heat in the structure. NIOSH determined some of the contributing factors to be inadequate staffing and an incomplete size-up. NIST used their Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) to provide insight on the thermal conditions that may have occurred. The critical event in this fire was a flashover in the kitchen that spread through the house. 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. Structure Fire Claims the Lives of Three Career Fire Fighters and Three Children - Iowa. Morgantown, WV: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH Report #F2000-04, 2001. Print.

Madrzykowski, Daniel, Glenn P. Forney, and William D. Walton. Simulation of the Dynamics of a Fire in a Two-Story Duplex – Iowa, December 22, 1999. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute for Standards and Technology, NISTIR 6854, 2002. Print.

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