Volunteer Fire Fighter Dies in a Floor Collapse While Working Above a Residential Basement Fire

Report Date: April 2018

On April 12, 2015, a South Dakota firefighter lost their life in a residential structure fire. The first firefighters arrived on scene with reports of a person trapped in the bedroom. When they forced the front door, they experienced thick, dark brown smoke banking down to the floor. The crew entered with a hose line, found the trapped individual, and removed him from the building. A second crew entered from a door in the garage and advanced a hose line down the hallway where they experienced the intense smoke, heat, and fire. The third firefighter on the line yelled for the crew to get out just before a loud explosion and intensification of the fire. Firefighters were evacuated from the building, but the third firefighter was not accounted for. The firefighter had fallen into the basement in a collapse, and despite the crews’ best efforts, he succumbed to his 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.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Volunteer Fire Fighter Dies in a Floor Collapse While Working Above a Residential Basement Fire - South Dakota. Morgantown, WV: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH Report #F2015-21, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/pdfs/face201521.pdf.

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