Reprinted with Permission

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Officials with the North Charleston Fire Department said they are committed to safety in the face of recent citations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration stemming from a July 5 fire.

In that fire three North Charleston firefighters sustained burns battling a house fire on Purity Drive near Rivers Avenue.

This month, the city and fire department received two citations from OSHA stemming from the house fire. Both citations claim the department put their men in a dangerous situation.

A statement released by OSHA said, "The employer knew or should have known that on or about July 5, 2010, firefighters performing interior structural firefighting were exposed to the hazard of being trapped in a burning residential building."

OSHA contends there were three rules that were not followed while trying to extinguish the fire.

The department must have at least two people in contact with each other at all times while inside a burning structure, two firefighters must be outside the structure at all times and everybody must be wearing a self-containing breathing apparatus.

Copyright 2010 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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It's interesting that OSHA seem to be quite active of late in issuing citations against FD's (Another one that comes to mind is the confined space fatality) however when the report offers the following, "The proposed penalty for each violation is $1,000.", it's hardly worth it.

The fines need to reflect the offense.

This one is $1000 per offense and from memory, the confined space one was $1500- and that one resulted in fatalities!

It would seem that no amount of training and education, reports from various agencies, etc are getting through to the decision makers and leaders. Maybe increased fines will do the trick....
Luke, the difference is that the incidents occurred in two different states - Indiana and South Carolina.

The similarity is that there were no firefighter fatalities from either incident, and the fire department actions haven't been shown to be contributory to the civilian fatalities in the Indiana incident.

South Carolina has a state OSHA agency. It is part of the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (LLR). Other LLR agencies include the State Fire Marshal's Office, the South Carolina Fire Academy, the state USAR agency, and the state Firefighter Mobilization (statewide mutual aid) coordinator.

The fact that SCOSHA regulates fire departments isn't a surprise to those of us who are firefighters in SC.

I don't believe that Indiana has a state OSHA agency, which means that they are federally regulated, by an agency that doesn't have either the manpower or close ties to the fire service that you see in SC.
NH, my state is NOT an OSHA state for municipal oversight, only private industry. The interesting thing is DES, Department Environmental Services adopted the OSHA regulations. That include respiratory protection, confined space and the 2in 2 out rules and much more. We as a non-osha state have to obide by them due to the fact that they were adopted by DES.
I am not sure but how many personnel did they have on the scene when the injuries happened, and could this have ben due to low manpower response becouse of economic concerns? I have heard of cutbacks all over the country, rolling brown outs, closings etc. Not saying they may or may not need fined \, but just wondering about manpower during the call.
There are a lot of details that have not ben made public regarding the incident and why OSHA chose to fine them.

I can tell you that one factor is that ALL of the departments in the Charleston area get closer OSHA scrutiny since 6-18-07.
then i say the state and towns need to take on more personnel considering my dept only have 2 full timers. so according to OSHA we will be unable to go into that building to pull there family members out. so then maybe every dept should have minimum requirements for staff of at least 4 firefighters.
Yes, I was wondering HOW MANY personnel were on scene?

If it was just 4 firefighters on scene - 3 in the bldg and 1 running the truck... then I am scared that the firefighters would make that type of decision to enter the bldg.

Perhaps it was only safe to deliver an external attack?

Makes you stop and think though...

But since there are so many details missing - we have to wait until the investigation is complete.

I read somewhere recently that more firefighters in the U.S. pursue interior firefighting in buildings where there are no occupants AND more firefighters die in the U.S. than any other developed country. One factor believed to influence this activity in the U.S. is related to the hero/invincible complex that often arises in the U.S., such as, more firefighters are willing to risk their life to save an empty structure or believe that their personal skills are greater than the power of the fire.
indiana does have a state osha agency but it is kind of a joke the only time you see them is when there is a fatality one of my employers actually got a letter in the mail from the saying the had a complaint about guards not being on machines and please send pictures and a statement from an employee showing that there were guards on the machines
If it was only that simple Michael. and this is not just an OSHA standard, it is in many NFPA documents that we all follow. The standard says we should operate under 2 in and 2 out rule when there is NO signs or a report of a "savable" victim inside the IDLH occupancy.

But there is also clause that says if there is a reported victim who the FD thinks can be safely rescued, then the 2 in 2 out rule is NOT in effect for the life safety issue.

Thus no need to find funding for a minimum of four firefighters on duty.
I don't really agree with that. I took an oath to save lives and property. Just because there aren't any people inside is no reason to call the whole place a loss and go home. We also don't know that there's no one inside. Unless you have x-ray vision, you have to search to confirm that.
Yup - and that is why LOTS of firefighters in the U.S. go in...

but there must be some influence which influences other countries to not take so many risks?

I don't have the answers. It is just an interesting statistical fact.
but there must be some influence which influences other countries to not take so many risks?

Heather, I've never hidden my amazement and dislike for the US way of doing things when it comes to responding.

There is IMHO, an amazing and scary culture within the US fire service. It's obvious when you read discussions on FFN about going interior, use of SCBA, risk management, lights on POV, etc. (Out of interest, does anyoen know what the Australian LODD rate is? I don't either. Why? Because the figures are so insignificant, no one records/reports them!)

Culturally and legally we're world's apart.

Unfortunately there also appears to be many members who are blinkered in their outlook and willingness to learn from anyone else. I've often said, tongue-in-cheek, that there's a whole wide world outside of the US borders.

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