The United States Fire Administration (USFA) released the Interstate 35W (I-35W) Bridge Collapse and Response Technical Report. The report examines the area’s emergency preparedness for, and response to, the August 1, 2007 bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota that killed 13 people and injured 121 others.
“To the nation’s firefighters, collapse of structure is something they all plan and prepared for. The uniqueness of this bridge collapse, and the challenges faced by firefighters and their command staffs offers an opportunity for firefighters across this nation to learn from the Minnesota response to this event. As a result, firefighters continue their efforts to prepare for any and all emergencies nationwide,” said United States Fire Administrator Greg Cade.
Just after 6 p.m. on the evening of August 1, 2007, the 40-year old bridge collapsed into the river and its banks without warning. At the time, there were approximately 120 vehicles, carrying 160 people, on the bridge. The impact of the fall broke the span into multiple planes of broken steel and crushed concrete–cars, buses, and trucks all resting precariously along guardrails or suddenly unprotected edges, crashed into other vehicles, partially embedded in the muddy river bank, or dropped precipitously into the river.
The local response to the bridge disaster–and the coordination with metro, State, and Federal partners–demonstrated the extraordinary value of comprehensive disaster planning and training. The city’s ability to respond had evolved over several years of investing heavily and widely in all the elements that make a crucial difference when disaster strikes. Their investment covered widespread training on the National Incident Management System (NIMS) that extended beyond city department heads and into all employee levels. Over half of the city’s 4,000 employees have received NIMS training.
USFA develops reports on selected major fires and events throughout the country. These emergencies usually involve multiple deaths or a large loss of property, but the primary criterion for deciding to write a report is whether it will result in significant “lessons learned.” In some cases, special reports are developed to discuss events, drills, or new technologies or tactics that are of interest to the fire service.
To obtain a copy of I-35W Bridge Collapse and Response, and other USFA technical reports, please visit visit the USFA Web site at www.usfa.dhs.gov and select the link Order Publications.