Two Fire Fighters Die and Two Fire Fighters are Injured at Multi-occupancy Fire with Structural Collapse

Report Date: September 2017

On October 12, 2015, two Kansas City firefighters lost their lives in a structural collapse at a three-story commercial building fire. The first units on scene reported a working fire with heavy smoke showing on all floors. Several rescues were made by the crews from balconies and inside the building. Conditions worsened as smoke became thick and dark and fire was visible from the exterior. It was determined that fire was in the floor joists. An evacuation of the building was ordered and operations switched from offensive to defensive. Command ordered a collapse zone, but several firefighters continued to operated from the alley. A collapse of the second floor caused the exterior wall to collapse, trapping four firefighters. Firefighters worked to extract the trapped firefighters. Despite the efforts of the crews, two of the firefighters succumbed to their injuries.  

This NIOSH report details the events of the incident and provides recommendations based on the investigation. There are lessons to be learned about fire behavior, the signs of worsening conditions, and building construction. 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.

  • Kansas City, Missouri Fire Department

    The Kansas City, Missouri Fire Department consists of uniformed and civilian employees who provide fire protection, emergency medical service, emergency rescue, hazardous materials response, and community risk management for the residents of Kansas City, Missouri. The Department stands committed to deliver their very best with each opportunity to serve.

    Led by Fire Chief Paul Berardi, KCFD delivers emergency services to the citizens of Kansas City, Missouri across 319 square miles from 34 fire stations that are organized into seven battalions. The department's integrated system of response includes fire apparatus and ambulances stationed strategically throughout the city. This system is designed to place fully trained emergency medical technicians quickly at the patient's side in any life threatening emergency. Every emergency responder in our system, whether riding a fire engine or an ambulance is trained to the EMT level or beyond to ensure that care will always be available. The department responds to approximately 110,000 emergency calls per year.

    The department is organized into bureaus that include: Professional Development, Technical Services, Special Operations, Emergency Operations, Systems Support and the Emergency Medical Bureau. An Assistant Chief of Department or Deputy Chief manages each of the bureaus.

    A hallmark of the department is the Labor/Management Partnership program that exists among fire administration and both locals of the International Association of Fire Fighters. This partnership is designed to include the employees as a participant in every significant decision within the department concerning policies and programs.

    Mission

    KCFD provides compassionate, professional life safety services by responding to the needs of the citizens and visitors of Kansas City, Missouri and its greater metropolitan area. Our services are enhanced through training, education, planning and teamwork. We will achieve our mission safely through the effective and efficient use of all resources.

    Personnel & Equipment

    The department includes more than 1200 emergency response and support personnel. The Kansas City, Missouri Fire Department has a daily deployment to serve the nearly 470,000 citizens of Kansas City, Missouri that includes:

    • 34 Pumpers (10 ALS, 24 BLS)
    • 12 Aerial Apparatus
    • 3 Technical Rescues
    • 27 Dynamic ALS Ambulances
    • 19 Static ALS Ambulances
    • Various specialized support equipment (Air support, HazMat Rescue)

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Two Fire Fighters Die and Two Fire Fighters are Injured at Multi-occupancy Fire with Structural Collapse-Missouri. Morgantown, WV: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH Report #F2015-15, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/pdfs/face201515.pdf.

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