NIOSH LODD Report Released on Fire and Collapse Which Killed Two Chicago Firefighters

NIOSH LODD Report Released on Fire and Collapse Which Killed Two Chicago Firefighters
F2010-38 Two Career Fire Fighters Die and 19 Injured in Roof Collapse during Rubbish Fire at an Abandoned Commercial Structure – Illinois




NIOSH Executive Summary
On December 22, 2010, a 47-year-old male (Victim # 1) and a 34-year old male (Victim # 2), both career fire fighters, died when the roof collapsed during suppression operations at a rubbish fire in an abandoned and unsecured commercial structure. The bowstring truss roof collapsed at the rear of the 84-year old structure approximately 16 minutes after the initial companies arrived on-scene and within minutes after the Incident Commander reported that the fire was under control. The structure, the former site of a commercial laundry, had been abandoned for over 5 years and city officials had previously cited the building owners for the deteriorated condition of the structure and ordered the owner to either repair or demolish the structure. The victims were members of the first alarm assignment and were working inside the structure. A total of 19 other fire fighters were hurt during the collapse.

Contributing Factors

  • Lack of a vacant / hazardous building marking program within the city
  • Vacant / hazardous building information not part of automatic dispatch system
  • Dilapidated condition of the structure
  • Dispatch occurred during shift change resulting in fragmented crews
  • Weather conditions including snow accumulation on roof and frozen water hydrants
  • Not all fire fighters equipped with radios.

Key Recommendations

  • Identify and mark buildings that present hazards to fire fighters and the public
  • Use risk management principles at all structure fires and especially abandoned or vacant unsecured structures
  • Train fire fighters to communicate interior conditions to the Incident Commander as soon as possible and to provide regular updates
  • Provide battalion chiefs with a staff assistant or chief’s aide to help manage information and communication
  • Provide all fire fighters with radios and train them on their proper use
  • Develop, train on, and enforce the use of standard operating procedures that specifically address operations in abandoned and vacant structures

NIOSH Recommendations

  • Recommendation #1: Fire departments and city building departments should work together to identify and mark buildings that present hazards to fire fighters and the public.
  • Recommendation #2: Fire departments should use risk management principles at all structure fires and especially abandoned or vacant unsecured structures.
  • Recommendation # 3: Fire departments should train fire fighters to communicate interior conditions to the Incident Commander as soon as possible and to provide regular updates.
  • Recommendation # 4: Fire departments should consider providing battalion chiefs with a staff assistant or chief’s aide to help manage information and communication.
  • Recommendation # 5: Fire departments should provide all fire fighters with radios and train them on their proper use.
  • Recommendation # 6: Fire departments should develop, train on and enforce the use of standard operating procedures that specifically address operations in abandoned and vacant structures.
  • Recommendation # 7: Fire departments should develop, implement and enforce a detailed Mayday Doctrine to ensure that fire fighters can effectively declare a Mayday.
  • Recommendation # 8: Fire departments should ensure that the Incident Commander maintains close accountability for all personnel operating on the fireground
  • Recommendation # 9: Fire departments should ensure that fire fighters are trained in fireground survival procedures.
  • Recommendation #10: Fire departments should ensure that all fire fighters are trained in and understand the hazards associated with bowstring truss construction.


FF Edward J. Stringer FF/EMT Corey D. Ankum

The tragic events in the City of Chicago on Wednesday December 22, 2010, when Chicago Firefighter Edward J. Stringer – Engine Co.63 and Firefighter/EMT Corey D. Ankum, Truck Co.34 were killed in the line of duty while operating at a structure fire in an abandoned one-story brick building in the 1700 block of East 75th Street on the City’s South side, exemplifies the demands, challenges and sacrifice that come with responsibilities, duty and sworn obligation that distinguishes the honorable profession of being a firefighter.

The fire was first reported at about 06:48 hours during the night and day tour shift change, with companies arriving at 06:52 hours reporting moderate fire in the buildings northeast corner. The single story commercial structure was vacant, however it was readily known that squatters were known to seek shelter in the abandoned structure especially give the harsh weather being experienced in the city. The fire was quickly contained at approximately 07:00 hours according to published reports, and radio communications, with coordinated suppression, search and rescue and ventilation operations being conduction by companied both within the interior and on the roof.

Other Operational Safety Insights and Considerations from and

  • During all operations involving actual or suspected Bowstring Truss Roofing Support Systems Command and Company Officers should be sensitive to risk assessment indicators related to both fire induced conditions as well as environmental and age induced factors.
  • Pre-plan your buildings look at the construction, components, features and condition of the building; there is a tremendous amount of information out there. Understand and comprehend what to look for, what it is that you’re looking at and more importantly make sure the information is retrievable for on-scene application and that the information is utilized when formulating IAP and in the dynamic risk assessment process
  • During Dynamic Risk Assessment, special attention should be focused on Predicated Building Performance common to identified building systems, features and structural systems that are based upon Occupancy Performance and NOT Occupancy Type.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) United States Fire Administration (USFA) issued a special report examining the characteristics of fires in vacant residential buildings. The report, Vacant Residential Building Fires, was developed by USFA’s National Fire Data Center and provides useful insights and recommendations. Link HERE
  • When developing incident action plans and operational assignments at incidents involving possible Vacant, Unoccupied or Abandoned structures, command and company officers shall implement a formulative risk -benefit assessment consistent with departmental procedures, policies and expectations.
  • Be knowledgable of operational factors and considerations related to operations at Vacant, Unoccupied or Abandoned structures; HERE and HERE
  • Read the Newest NIOSH Alert: Preventing Deaths and Injuries of Fire Fighters at Structure Fires, HERE
  • Start considering building; age, deterioration, environmental impacts and influences in your IAP and tactical considerations, we at times forget to consider these performance indicators effectively during initial or sustained operations.
  • Learn more about Building Construction, Occupancy Profiling, Reading a Building, Occupancy Risk versus Occupancy Type and always consider Tactical Patience.
  • Increase your knowledge on Structural Collapse indicators especially for buildings of masonry construction in both Type III and Type IV construction.
  • There is a Predictability of Performance in all Buildings and Occupancies with Heavy Timber or Built-up Bowstring Truss Structural Systems; Know what they are.
  • Understand what to look for in Heavy Timber or Built-up Bowstring Truss Structural System integrity related to; Age and Deterioration, Gravity, Cross Grain Shrinkage, Wood Defects that are self-evident in chords and web members, Upper Chord Buckling, Lower Chord splitting or failure points, web splitting or pull-outs, multiple roofing systems or membranes, multiple void spaces, compromised bearing walls or pilasters, compromised or degraded bearing points or truss ends.
  • Learn to identify masonry wall features and what they mean towards tactical operations
  • In smaller single story occupancies; any loss of structural integrity of a single truss component would likely cause the compromise or collapse of adjacent truss components and connective decking planks due to the interdependence and connectivity of the roofing support (trusses), purlins, rafters and roofing planks and outer membrane system.
  • Typically the failure of one bowstring truss span will compromise or cause the collapse of each adjacent truss to either side of the original affected truss causing the failure of a sizeable roof area.
  • Companies operating on such affected roof area areas are subject to high risk and vulnerability should the roof area fail. Refer to the incident conditions and structural collapse from the Waldbaum’s Collapse, FDNY August 2, 1978. Go to the incident overview at HERE.
  • In smaller square foot commercial occupancies that have shallow depth bowstring truss components and both limited spans (less than 100 linear feet clear span) and number of trusses (six or less) the likelihood of a catastrophic roof collapse should be considered highly predicable in all incident action plans and during incident status monitoring.
  • The loss of load bearing and load transfer capabilities at these wall connections can contribute towards failure and collapse conditions. The end connections points (end cap or end shoe) of a bowstring truss are critical towards maintain truss performance and structural integrity.
  • The loss of truss axial orientation, resultant excessive deflection, loss of integrity of chord/ web geometry and connection points can lead to failure mechanisms and a cascading effect due to transferring of loads and possible overstressing and directly lead to subsequent failures.
  • It should be noted that fire service personnel should have a high degree of respect for the danger and susceptible risk imposed by compromised or failing bearing and non-load bearing walls.
  • Collapse zones must be established and access controlled based upon physical incident scene layout, access and proximal exposure structures.
  • All fire service personnel should have awareness level training and an understanding of recognizing collapse indicators for buildings of masonry construction and tactical safety considerations
  • Company and Command Officers must have a higher level of knowledge and training to be able to recognize subtle or obvious construction, conditions or indicators that will affect IAP, strategic, tactical or task assignments and be able to act upon those indicators with immediacy and urgency as conditions and risk dictate.
  • The Collapse Zone should be at a minimum be equal to the full height of the exterior masonry wall face and also take into consideration additional distance due building material momentum, bounce and toss due to individual bricks, steel lintels and other components and materials acting as projectiles and traveling distances greater than the defined “collapse zone”.

Anatomy of a Building and Its Collapse

From’ s 2010 postings: Chicago: Anatomy of a Building and its Collapse and Chicago: Anatomy of a Building and its Collapse-PDF Download

Some additional Insight Materials for discussion from and

Ordinary and Heavy Timber Constructed Occupancies Training Download

Note: and is in the process of revising and expanding this Training Download.

We hope to have the update published in early September 2011. Watch for posting announcements

Take at Look at this: Occupancy Risks versus Occupancy Types


  • National Firefighter Near-Miss Reporting System Operational Safety Considerations at Ordinary and Heavy Timber Constructed Occupancies PowerPoint Program developed by Christopher Naum, HERE
  • Informational Support Narrative download, HERE
Do you know what to look for upon arrival?
What Building features and factors will affect your operations?

Program Screenshot


The IAFF Fire Ground Survival Program (FGS) is the most comprehensive survival-skills and mayday-prevention program currently available and is open to all members of the fire service. Incorporating federal regulations, proven incident-management best practices and survival techniques from leaders in the field, and real case studies from experienced fire fighters, FGS aims to educate all fire fighters to be prepared if the unfortunate happens.



For links to the IAFF Fire Ground Survival Program, HERE and HERE

The program will provide participating fire departments with the skills they need to improve situational awareness and prevent a mayday. Topics covered include:

  • Preventing the Mayday: situational awareness, planning, size up, air management, fitness for survival, defensive operations.
  • Being Ready for the Mayday: personal safety equipment, communications, accountability systems.
  • Self-Survival Procedures: avoiding panic, mnemonic learning aid “GRAB LIVES”— actions a fire fighter must take to improve survivability, emergency breathing.
  • Self-Survival Skills: SCBA familiarization, emergency procedures, disentanglement, upper floor escape techniques.
  • Fire Fighter Expectations of Command: command-level mayday training, pre-mayday, mayday and rescue, post-rescue, expanding the incident-command system, communications.
Take some time to look at the Photos from Tom Olk at

Chicago Fire Department Funeral Service For Fire Fighter Ed Stringer



Filed Under: BuildingsonFireCombat Fire EngagementThe Collapse Zone


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