NIOSH report released for 2007 Deutsch Bank high rise LODD’s

The NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program recently released the investigation report of the line of duty deaths of two career FDNY  firefighters during a 2007 seven-alarm high-rise that caught fire while undergoing deconstruction and asbestos abatement.

By the time the fire was extinguished, 115 fire fighters had suffered a variety of injuries. Key contributing factors to this incident included: delayed notification of the fire by building construction personnel, inoperable standpipe and sprinkler system, delay in establishing water supply, inaccurate information about standpipe, unique building conditions with both asbestos abatement and deconstruction occurring simultaneously, extreme fire behavior, uncontrolled fire rapidly progressing and extending below the fire floor, blocked stairwells preventing fire fighter access and egress, maze-like interior conditions from partitions and construction debris, heavy smoke conditions causing numerous fire fighters to become lost or disoriented, failure of fire fighters to always don SCBAs inside structure and to replenish air cylinders, communications overwhelmed with numerous Mayday and urgent radio transmissions, and lack of crew integrity.

Below is footage taken at the scene of the fire:

NIOSH has concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should:

  • review and follow existing standard operating procedures on high-rise fire fighting to ensure that fire fighters are not operating in hazardous areas without the protection of a charged hoseline.
  • be prepared to use alternative water supplies when a building’s standpipe system is compromised or inoperable.
  • develop and enforce risk management plans, policies, and standard operating guidelines for risk management during complex high-rise operations.
  • ensure that crew integrity is maintained during high-rise fire suppression operations.
  • train fire fighters on actions to take if they become trapped or disoriented inside a burning high-rise structure.
  • ensure that fire fighters diligently wear their self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) when working in environments that are immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH).
  • train fire fighters in air management techniques to ensure they receive the maximum benefit from their self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
  • use exit locators (both visual and audible) or safety ropes to guide lost or disoriented fire fighters to the exit.
  • conduct pre-incident planning inspections of buildings within their jurisdictions to facilitate development of safe fireground strategies and tactics.
  • encourage building owners and occupants to report emergency situations as soon as possible and provide accurate information to the fire department.
  • consider additional fire fighter training using a high-rise fire simulator.

You can read the full report here.