Firefighter Fatality Investigations
After a line of duty death, several entities will conduct investigations in order to collect information and data on how and why the death occurred. This data is then utilized to help educate fire departments in preventing similar deaths, change standards within the industry, and possibly point to the need for more funding in certain areas of the fire service. In the State of Texas, investigations by government entities are not conducted in order to issue punitive fines on the department or it’s members. These investigations are merely for educational purposes only.
NIOSH– The NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP) conducts investigations of fire fighter line-of-duty deaths to formulate recommendations for preventing future deaths and injuries. The program does not seek to determine fault or place blame on fire departments or individual fire fighters, but to learn from these tragic events and prevent future similar events. Investigations are prioritized using a decision flow chart 33 KB (1 page) available on the FFFIPP website. Investigation priorities will change depending on fatality data.
The mission of the nonprofit NFPA, established in 1896, is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. The world’s leading advocate of fire prevention and an authoritative source on public safety, NFPA develops, publishes, and disseminates more than 300 consensus codes and standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks.
The NFPA will usually only send a form to file in regard to the death. No investigator will be sent to your department unless a special request is made.
Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office –
As of September 1, 2001, the State Fire Marshal’s Office is responsible for investigating firefighter fatalities in Texas. These investigations are conducted in cooperation with fire-service organizations such as the State Firemen’s & Fire Marshals’ Association, Texas Fire Chiefs Association, Texas Association of Firefighters, Texas Fire Marshals Association, Texas Commission on Fire Protection, Texas Forest Service, and Emergency Services Training Institute.
As Other local invesitgations might take place after a line of duty death depending on where you live and the particular jurisdication your department resides. A county fire marshal’s office, law enforcement agency, or insurance company might conduct their own investigations. Some of these agencies might decide to use either the state or national report in lieu of conducting their own investigations.
If an emergency worker is killed in a fire related incident that could be considered suspicious and/or depending on the circumstances, the ATF and/or the DEA might also conduct their own investigations.
If the emergency worker is killed and there is a belief that the death was contributed to equipment malfunction, the manufacturer of the said equipment will most likely want to conduct an investigation of the equipment. Make sure the equipment in question is secured and not tampered with. The manufacturer will inform you of the best way to retrieve the equipment.