Published on November 1, 2019.

Game Changers

The 13 recommendations from the 2000 NIOSH report on the Worcester cold storage fire

1. Ensure that inspections of vacant buildings and pre-fire planning are conducted that cover all potential hazards, structural building materials (type and age), and renovations that may be encountered during a fire so that the incident commander will have the necessary structural information to make informed decisions and implement an appropriate plan of attack.

2. Ensure that the incident command system is fully implemented at the fire scene.

3. Ensure that a separate incident safety officer, independent from the incident commander, is appointed when activities, size of fire, or need occurs—such as during multiple alarm fires—and responds automatically to pre-designated fires.

4. Ensure that standard operating procedures and equipment are adequate and sufficient to support the volume of radio traffic at multiple-alarm fires.

5. Ensure that incident command always maintains close accountability for all personnel at the fire scene.

6. Use guide ropes/tag lines securely attached to permanent objects at entry portals and place high-intensity floodlights at entry portals to assist lost or disoriented firefighters in emergency escape.

7. Ensure that a rapid intervention team is established and in position upon their arrival at the fire scene.

8. Implement an overall health and safety program, such as the one recommended in NFPA 1500, Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety, Health, and Wellness Program.

9. Consider using a marking system when conducting searches.

10. Identify dangerous vacant buildings by affixing warning placards to entrance doorways or other openings where firefighters may enter.

11. Ensure that officers enforce and firefighters follow the mandatory mask rule per administrative guidelines established by the department.

12. Explore the use of thermal imaging cameras to locate lost or downed firefighters and civilians in fire environments.

13. Manufacturers and research organizations should conduct research to refine existing technology, and develop new technology, to track the  fireground movements of firefighters.