Today in fire history: firefighter killed at fire in a vacant warehouse

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Sep 9, 2011

On September 9, 1989, the Seattle Fire Department responded to a fire in a vacant lumber warehouse.  The incident quickly became a multiple alarm fire due to several factors, including multiple fire sets (fire investigators determined that the cause of the fire was arson).   A fire officer and a firefighter who were in a smoky section of the main building became disoriented.  The firefighter was found and rescued, but the officer was not able to escape, and died of smoke inhalation.  Factors contributing to the death of the fire officer included:

  • The inability of fireground officers to account at all times for the location of all personnel
  • The actions of firefighters that failed to conform to safe fireground practices as recommended by NFPA and the International Fire Service Training Association, and required by the Seattle Fire Department
  • The inadvertent use of the wrong radio channel by the two disoriented firefighters

NFPA members can read the full investigation report, and all site visitors can read NFPA’s report: Firefighter Fatalities in the United States 2010.

-Ben Evarts