NIOSH: Protect Firefighters During Structure Fires with Collapse Zones


Dear Alums and FPST students: This month’s AIHA Essential Connections has a news item about a NIOSH study concerning establishing collapse zones in structural fires. Their recommendations apply to everyday type incidents, not only major responses such as 9-11. 

The second link is to a You Tube video sent to me by a member of my antique car club. The vehicle involved is described as a welding truck, but it may be a flammable gas transport vehicle. Note especially the cylinder off gassing on the ground towards the end of the video. Several civilians are watching from well inside the isolation zone. Looks like another Russian video. They routinely have dash cameras to help in insurance cases.

John Stevens, Ph.D
Visiting Assistant Professor,
 NIOSH: Protect Firefighters during Structure Fires with Collapse Zones

A new NIOSH “Workplace Solutions” publication addresses the significant risk for injury or death due to structural collapse during firefighting operations. According to the agency, 11.5 percent of firefighter deaths from 2000 to 2012 were caused by structural collapse.

To help protect firefighters when there is potential for a structural collapse, NIOSH recommends that the incident commander establish defensive operations and a collapse zone—the area around a structure’s perimeter that could contain debris if it collapsed. Collapse zones should be visually marked by colored tape, signage cones, flashing beacons, fences, or other means, the agency states. In instances when visual identification is not possible or practical, the incident commander should communicate the collapse zone area to all personnel via radio or other methods. 
In addition to these recommendations, NIOSH’s publication includes two case studies; controls to minimize hazards and risks to firefighters before, during, and after an incident; and a list of training materials and additional information.

View the publication on NIOSH’s website.

Or here if the link above doesn’t work:



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