Safety Alert Number 0710090

NIOSH report issues floor systems warning after Indiana firefighter death


By FireRescue1 Staff
WEA TOWNSHIP, Ind. — The potential dangers of unprotected pre-engineered I-joist floor systems have been highlighted in a NIOSH report into the death of an Indiana firefighter while tackling a house fire.
Deputy Chief Steven Smith, 34, of the Wea Township Volunteer Fire Department, died after falling through a failed section of floor on the first floor of a residential structure in June last year. Attempts were made to reach him via a 14' roof ladder, but due to debris in the basement, fire/smoke conditions, and the angle of the failed floor, all attempts failed, according to the report. Firefighters then entered the house, traversed the floor, and gained interior access to the basement to retrieve the victim, it added.
According to the County Coroner, the cause of death was carbon monoxide intoxication. The NIOSH investigation found that the property had pre-engineered wooden I-joists floor systems. Its report said that findings from this investigation and another study identified research showing that pre-engineered wooden I-joists floor systems may fail earlier than other systems under direct flame impingement. The report's recommendations for fire departments include: