A fire in a Seattle warehouse on January 5, 1995, resulted in the deaths of four members of the Seattle Fire Department. All four died when the floor between the upper and lower levels of the building collapsed. The fire, which was determined to have been set intentionally, began in the building’s lower level directly below the area in which fire crews were conducting interior fire operations.
Despite the aggressive efforts to enhance firefighter safety by the Seattle Fire Department in the years leading up to this event, four firefighters still lost their lives. NFPA’s investigation identified the following as contributing factors in the incident:
- Confusion about the physical layout of the building as well as the location of crews working in, above, and around the structure in relation to the fire
- Lack of awareness on the fireground of the location of the fire and the various crews in relation to the fire
- Insufficient progress reports transmitted over the fireground frequency
- Lack of awareness of the length of time the building had been on fire and the passage of time after fire department notification
- Failure to take into account the fact that the building was a known arson target when formulating the fireground strategy
- Insufficient information to develop a risk/benefit evaluation of fireground operations