Firefighter Fatality Reports Examine Cardiac Deaths

A series of recently released firefighter fatality reports from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) looked at three instances where firefighters succumbed to cardiac events.

The first report looked at an incident where a fire apparatus operator in Hawaii suffered sudden cardiac death during physical fitness training. On January 18, 2012, a 50-year-old male career fire apparatus operator was working a 24-hour shift during which he responded to one emergency call and then participated in his department’s wellness/fitness program. Approximately three hours later, a crew member found the victim unresponsive in the station’s exercise room. Read more HERE.

Another report dealt with an instance in which a Louisiana firefighter suffered heart attack and dies after fighting a structure fire. On December 3, 2011, a 45-year-old male volunteer firefighter assisted in exterior fire suppression operations and interior overhaul operations at fire. After 10 minutes of self-rehabilitation, the firefighter was breaking down hoselines when he reported feeling “funny,” and subsequently collapsed. Read further details and recommendations HERE.

The third recently released report deals with a fire chief who suffered a heart attack while fighting a structure fire and died in Mississippi. On March 4, 2012, a 45-year-old male volunteer fire chief was operating on the exterior sans self-contained breathing apparatus, where he was exposed intermittently to smoke. The chief and a crew member suddenly began coughing, became nauseated, and vomited. They were later transported to the emergency room at a medical facility, where the chief had an acute heart attack and died. Read more about this incident HERE.

Reports from the NIOSH Firefighter Fatality Investigation Program can provide critical incidents into what went wrong at deadly incidents. More of these reports can be accessed at


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