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Florida--Another Training Fatality..Let's Discuss It!

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  • NJFFSA16
    Report: fire recruit's death due to heart attack

    (Fort Lauderdale-AP) -- The Broward County medical examiner's
    office says a man training to be a Miami-Dade County firefighter
    died when he went into cardiac arrest during a simulated ship fire
    last August.
    The report says Wayne Mitchell had two minor heart conditions
    that were undetectable when he was alive. It says the problems made
    him more susceptible to develop an abnormal heartbeat.
    Mitchell was taking part in a routine certification exercise the
    morning of August 8th with four classmates. They were in a box-like
    container meant to resemble a burning ship at Port Everglades.
    The medical examiner's report says it was so hot inside the box
    that three of the instructors left early. The other four recruits
    managed to make their way out of the building.
    When Mitchell did NOT come out, two instructors went back into
    the building. They found him in cardiac arrest, but still wearing
    his breathing apparatus. Mitchell was later died at Broward General
    Medical Center.

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  • captstanm1
    I understand what CR is saying, but I have to agree with Bones..... That amount of time seems extensive, especially when the family is in limbo waiting to hear, the people involved are on edge and there are so many unknowns as people go about the daily business.....just waiting. Contributes to some very stressfull working environments.

    I agree the investigation should be thorough....but look at the length of time it took for the Osceola Report to come out. It was no where near a year, I do not believe....then...on the other hand, the department waited a year to deal with the individual who was "in charge."

    Leave a comment:

  • ChiefReason
    Seems to be the trend!

    NIOSH conducted their investigation into the death of Bradley Golden at Lairdsville beginning in September 27, 2001 and concluding with the published report on October 31, 2002. One year and one month.
    But it was a good report. I thought it didn't address a couple of issues, but was well written.
    One year from date of fatality doesn't surprise me.

    Leave a comment:

  • Bones42
    Investigators from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which looks into all firefighter deaths, finished their work last week but will not have a report ready for six to 12 months, the fire chief said
    While I am in complete favor of a thorough investigation, 6 to 12 months for the report seems way too long.

    Leave a comment:

  • captstanm1
    Update--After the Fact>>FD Looks for alternative Training Sites

    Fire death prompts Dade to spurn Broward facility
    [email protected]

    Miami-Dade fire rescue is looking for an alternative site to hold its live fire exercises following the death of one of its cadets at Port Everglades this month, officials said Saturday.

    The live-burn training was suspended at the Broward County simulator after Wayne Mitchell, 37, of South Miami died during a training class Aug. 8. Five cadets and three supervisors entered the fire simulator, built to reach temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees.

    They were supposed to snake their way through a series of passageways and put out the fire.

    When the instructors and other trainees came out, they discovered that Mitchell had become separated from the group.

    He was found inside the simulator, owned by Resolve Marine Group.

    ''The state of Florida requires that fire recruits go through some type of live burn exercise before graduating recruit class,'' explained department spokesman Luis Fernandez.

    Miami-Dade is looking at possible training sites in Naples or Central Florida, he said.

    Officials are still unsure of what caused the accident.

    ''We are looking into our training aspects. The fire chief has asked that the procedures and policies used in training to be looked at,'' Fernandez said. ``If a change is warranted he will ask for that.''

    The Broward County Sheriff's Office, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and Broward fire officials are also conducting inquiries into Mitchell's death.

    Leave a comment:

  • captstanm1
    an accident during a simulated ship fire at Port Everglades.
    the state requires cadets to go through two "burns" before they can get certified,
    This is correct however it requires structural burns I believe and does not speak of a requirement for simulated boat fires. We all know that going into the hull of a burning boat is comparible to being in an oven. It is my understanding from folks around the state that this type of training in that area was added in addition to the minimum state requirements.

    I am not saying that it is not necessary, but CR brings out a good point. While temperatures may reach that level in a boat fire:
    I don't know of a situation where you would be exposed to 1000 degrees plus for 20 minutes or more.

    Leave a comment:

  • ChiefReason
    It's been a slow summer for discussion!

    Stan and Ed:
    I have been researching this incident. Of course, news accounts is all we have right now. I ALWAYS wonder about the accuracy of information given by "anonymous" sources. I do not see the usual suspects debating this one through to the NIOSH report. We have always discussed these sans "official" reports. This one is no different.
    So; here is my take.
    Unless God himself reached down and lit the fire under the simulator and fanned the flames, there were definitely mistakes made. Accountability is critical in this one. A recruit is not someone you go back in for. A recruit is never left alone in a training exercise that is so physically demanding. Perhaps it was too hot for the instructors that day and they decided to bail early. It is sounding like it was too hot for this type of training on that day. I have to wonder why technology hasn't advanced us to cooling these bulkheads on ships in some way that you aren't getting a serious beating from the heat. Those of us who have fought structural fires know that it is important to get things cooled down ASAP. I don't know of a situation where you would be exposed to 1000 degrees plus for 20 minutes or more. I think a review of the procedures for use of the simulator should be done. Has this training turned in to some kind of a "toughman contest"?
    And as far as whether or not heads will roll as a result of this one?
    Let's face it; the precedent has been set with the actions taken against the training officer in the Osceola County training deaths.
    Give us more on this one, guys.
    But don't be surprised if discussion comes slowly. I think everyone took the summer off, cancelled their newspapers and unplugged their TVs. Because the tragedies continue. And they cannot be ignored simply because they are not discussed here.
    Stay safe everyone.

    Leave a comment:

  • captstanm1

    Miami-Dade fire rescue cancels live training exercises after death of cadet

    By Shannon O'Boye
    Posted August 30 2003

    The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department will not send any more cadets into live fires until officials can ensure that their training practices are safe.

    "I went ahead and canceled that the day of the tragic accident," Fire Chief Tony Bared said Friday, referring to the death of cadet Wayne Mitchell on Aug. 8. He formalized the decision this week in a monthly videotaped message sent out to the rank and file.

    The morning Mitchell died, he, four other recruits and three instructors donned full gear and walked into a simulator designed to resemble a burning ship. The blaze was supposed to be controlled, but it was burning so hot that Mitchell and at least one other recruit suffered burns during the drill in Port Everglades. The cadets were supposed to stay together and use a fire hose as a guide as they moved through the building, but Mitchell, the group leader, became separated and eventually collapsed. No one noticed he was missing until everyone else made it out safely.

    Rescuers had to make two passes through the Resolve Fire and Hazard Response Center's dark, scorching simulator before they found Mitchell unconscious lying near the fire hose. Medics rushed Mitchell, 37, to Broward General Medical Center, where doctors pronounced him dead.

    Broward County Medical Examiner Joshua Perper has not determined a cause of death. He said the former lifeguard was in good shape and suffered from no diseases. Tests results and information gathered from interviews conducted by Broward Sheriff's Office and state Fire Marshal's Office investigators might help him figure out what happened inside the fire and why Mitchell died, he said.

    Investigators from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which looks into all firefighter deaths, finished their work last week but will not have a report ready for six to 12 months, the fire chief said.

    Bared said he cannot wait that long to resume live-fire training because the state requires cadets to go through two "burns" before they can get certified, so he created a committee within his department to look at the training procedures.

    He wants to buy infrared cameras for every fire truck that will enable firefighters to see through thick smoke and blackness, he said. Those would have helped the instructors who were searching for Mitchell.

    The committee will need to decide whether more safety officers are needed inside and outside the building during dangerous training exercises and whether the temperature inside the "burn box" that day contributed to the tragedy.

    Bared declined to comment on news reports that it was so hot inside the building during Mitchell's fatal session that one of the instructors bailed out through a side door, but he said, "If someone opens a door for whatever reason, whether it be a cadet or an instructor, the drill is over."

    Bared, who was appointed chief in July, has reorganized the department to make top officers more responsible to him and appointed Ray BarretoÖ as the head of the training division. A captain, Steve MacKinnonÖ, had been acting as the training chief for the past several months.

    "I wanted someone to take a good, hard look at the training," Bared said. "I wanted fresh ideas and a new person in there. We'll revamp training if it's necessary. I'm not saying that it is."

    Bared could not say when live fire training will resume. He wants it to be quickly, but he will not rush anything.

    "I just became chief a couple of weeks before this happened," he said. "This thing tore me apart. We'll do whatever is needed to make sure this doesn't happen again."

    Shannon O'Boye can be reach at [email protected] or 954-356-4597.

    Copyright © 2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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  • NJFFSA16
    KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - The lieutenant who was in charge when two
    Osceola County firefighters died in a training accident two years
    ago is guilty of dereliction of duty and could be fired, according
    to the department's deputy chief of administration and county
    Fire Rescue Training Officer John Simpson is guilty of several
    dereliction of duty, including "incompetence" and "safety
    violations," according to an Aug. 15 letter written by Kevin
    Yelvington, the fire department's deputy chief of administration.
    Firefighter union leaders vowed to fight termination
    proceedings, saying investigations cited multiple causes for the
    deadly July 30, 2002, flashover that led to the deaths of rookie
    firefighter Dallas Begg, 20, and Lt. John Mickel, 32.
    Authorities ruled Mickel and Begg died of thermal burns and
    smoke inhalation suffered in a flashover, the superheated flame
    that burst forth shortly after another firefighter broke a window
    in a small bedroom where the fire was set.
    Mickel and Begg were inside searching for a training dummy.
    Simpson is not to blame for their deaths, union leaders said.
    "This came out of nowhere. It's ridiculous. It's unjust," said
    Todd Smith, president of the Osceola Professional Firefighters
    Local 3284.
    Simpson is on paid suspension with leave.
    The department used materials, including a foam mattress, that
    violated NFPA standards, the State Fire Marshal's Office ruled in
    Carpet throughout the 1,600-square-foot block house also had
    urethane-foam padding that may have contributed to the deadly fire.
    Information from: The Orlando Sentinel,

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    Leave a comment:

  • NJFFSA16
    Re: Investiagtion Underway

    Originally posted by NJFFSA16
    I await further details on the circumstances of this LODD. My preliminary thoughts lean towards negligence of training personnel.
    That was my post early on in this thread. Unfortunately....I believe it may be accurate.

    Accountability isn't just something you do during actual calls. It certainly needs to be in place at training. These instructors are responsible for ensuring that. Based on preliminary reports, I would expect multiple disciplinary actions to be taken here...up to, and including termination.

    More comments as I hear more details.


    Leave a comment:

  • 5pts384
    The instructors bailed out earley? The students are your charge YOU get them out before you. You may push your student out, but you are BEHIND the student. The training may go "south" but your job is to protect your student.....Rant off...

    Leave a comment:

  • captstanm1
    A source close to the investigation said that two of the three Miami-Dade Fire instructors involved in the incident did not follow proper procedures and bailed out of the exercise early.
    I wonder who the source was? If seasoned instructors "bailed out" what do you think the conditions inside were?

    a training area where temperatures can reach a scorching 2,000 degrees
    Did I miss something here? I know of no PPE that will begin to protect a firefighter to temperatures of that magnitude.

    At the Resolve Training Center, leased by the Miami-Dade Fire Department for training, Channel 10 News has learned that four of the five recruits made it out by climbing stairs to an upper-level exit. However, two MDFD instructors, one of whom should have been at the end of the hose and according to procedure should have been the last one out behind the recruits, bailed out a side door, failing to follow the students.
    Sounds like the attempt to maintain accountability went south very quickly with folks bailing out in different areas.

    Mitchell's family has said it wants to know why it took so long for three supervisors to figure out he was missing during the live fire exercise
    It will be interesting to read how much time lapsed from the time they exited until they determined he was missing and from that point to when they found him.

    Investigators said it could take another month of extensive testing to determine the exact cause of Mitchell's death.
    What are they going to test? The results of the autopsy should show the cause of death, based on blood test and toxicology reports.

    Two fire officials from Broward County who did not want to be identified said Mitchell suffered severe burns to his hands and knees during the drill. Antonio Mesa, another trainee, received a serious burn to his right hand, but when he was reached at home Saturday, he said he could not talk.
    The other four trainees suffered minor injuries and were treated and released from local hospitals. In a press conference Tuesday, Broward County Medical Examiner Dr. Joshua Perper said Mitchell suffered minor burns to his hands and knees, as well as some brain swelling, but that those injuries were not enough to have caused his death. "We don't have extensive burns, we don't have evidence of soot in the airway, we don't have any kind of trauma,"
    Which is it????

    Leave a comment:

  • Bones42
    I realize they are only newspaper articles and not a NIOSH report, but 4 of the 5 articles CaptStan posted say the same thing. The instructors went back in after only 4 of the trainees came out. Aren't the instructors supposed to be the last ones out and keeping an eye on the trainees? or is this a simulator where the instructors monitor room progress/situation from outside? Anyone know?

    Leave a comment:

  • flathead
    Yes, firefighting is inherently dangerous, but there is no reason for anyone to die IN TRAINING. Training should be a controlled environment where being macho or having to prove something to the "new" guy is totally out of place. In the "old days" it was almost a hazing ritual to see how much punishment could be doled out to probies to see if they had "the right stuff", but I'd hoped we had gotten beyond that in this day and age.

    As the Lt. and Capt stann said, we don't have a lot of info here to draw conclusions, but it sure can help us be more aware of how to train in hot weather. Remember that you are wearing a tremendous amount of insulation that will keep heat in as well as out. Then add excercise and maybe a hot and hostile environment and your core temp rises.It does not take long for your body heat to begin to rise and there is a window of less than 10 degrees until brain damage begins.

    If anyone has ever been on the edge of a heat related incident it is not a good feeling. About 19 years ago I stumbled out of a fire building where my partner and I got the snot knocked out of us trying to get to a mom and two kids unsuccessfully.It was a hot day in August and I didn't know if I was pitching or catching by the time the chief pushed me down in the ditch and kept a booster line flowing over my head to cool me down while the medics did thier thing. This was in the days before rehab and rotation.

    At "real scenes" we now rotate crews in and out and stress re-hydration,check vitals regularly, etc. Training scenarios should be no different.PRE-HYDRATE, drink regularly,stay in a shaded area when not involved in and evolution,take the damn bunkers off when you are not involved,check the I'm too tough attitude at the door, have medics there to check your people and if it's too hot.....CALL IT OFF.

    Leave a comment:

  • mcaldwell
    Re: Miami Herald News Report

    I have to agree that there is not enough info to make any judgements regarding the cause, but here are two statements from the original article that caught my eye the first time around:

    Originally posted by captstanm1

    Wayne Mitchell, 37, became separated from his comrades...

    ''When you come out you're exhausted and you have all this heavy equipment on, so you don't pay attention to what's going on around you,'' said the trainee, who asked not to be identified. ``You're more interested in getting hydrated.''
    This is the first and biggest item to stress to a recruit, and quite possibly the first broken link in the chain.

    Buddy! Buddy! Buddy!

    I'm your lifeline and you're mine, and all new recruits must have this bashed, crammed, and squeezed into their heads long before they ever enter a live fire simulator. On first glance, it sounds like there was a failure to establish or maintain the buddy system. This is a mistake that should be made and corrected in the artificial smokehouse, not the live-fire simulator.

    This may have only been an off-the cuff comment made by a stressed recruit, but it could also be a hint that something big was missed here. We'll certainly learn more as the investigation progresses.

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