South Africa firefighter killed in vehicle accident

From iol Mobile, March 6, 2015:

“Cape Town – A young firefighter from the West Coast District Municipality died on Thursday when the fire truck he drove left the road and plunged down the side of the Dasklip Pass.

Nazeem Davies, 25, from Worcester, was on his way back to the Vredenburg station from the Winterhoek Mountains, near Porterville, where he and his colleagues had helped put out a fire.

West Coast District Municipality spokesman Kallie Willemse said Davies and a colleague, Niklaas Nel, were on their way back to Vreden.

Nel escaped with slight injuries, but the truck hit a large boulder on the way down, which stopped it but crushed the truck to the point where hydraulic jaws had to be used to extricate Davies’ body from the wreck.”

Our sincere condolences go out to the firefighter’s co-workers and family.

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Body found in Pennsylvania vegetation fire

From WNEP in Pennsylvania:

EAST UNION TOWNSHIP — Fire crews in Schuylkill County are cleaning up after a brush fire where a body was found. Fire officials said the fire near Sheppton started around 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

Crews found the body of Dorothy Fellin, 74, in the burnt brush.

The Bureau of Forestry is investigating the fire, but officials believe the 74-year-old woman was burning leaves near her home on Centre Street.

The bureau said with the area’s rough terrain, wind gusts and dry leaves, fires spread quickly…

The fire burned seven acres.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family.

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Montana Fire Chief dies one month after vehicle accident

Dave Anderson, a volunteer Fire Chief in Fort Shaw, Montana died Monday, a month after he was injured in a traffic accident. Cascade County Deputy Coroner Jason Boyd said the Chief died as a result of injuries suffered in the crash, along with cardiac complications. The Montana Highway Patrol said he was driving a water tender on U.S. Highway 89 on July 22 when his vehicle collided with a brush truck that was making a U-turn because the driver had missed a turnoff.

On June 19 another Montana firefighter and a family of five was killed when the fire engine driven by Three Forks Fire Chief Todd Rummel experienced a mechanical problem that locked up one of the wheels, causing the truck to veer into the path of the oncoming pickup. Investigators determined that Chief Rummel died of smoke inhalation while unconscious. Matthew Boegli, Crystal Ross and their three young children died of blunt-force trauma on impact. The Chief was driving back to Three Forks at 55 mph while returning from Helena where the truck had been undergoing repairs to its water system.

Our sincere condolences go out to the families.

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Firefighter dies while off duty in Oregon

Several media outlets are reporting that a wildland firefighter died while he was off duty at a fire camp. Matthew David Goodnature, 21, of Phoenix, Oregon was found by another firefighter Tuesday evening, July 29, near Four Mile Lake on the Fremont-Winema National Forest in Oregon. Mr. Goodnature was assigned to the Launch Fire and apparently took a walk away from the camp where an accident occurred.

According to Newswatch 12:

Detective Nick Kennedy with the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case, and said he cannot draw any conclusions until his investigation is done. However, it appears that Goodnature tripped on a large rock and fell backwards. Scruff marks and other traces indicated Goodnature fell on a log that struck him on the small of his back. Detective Kennedy said it appears he died of a broken back.

Mr. Goodnature worked for Pacific Oasis Wildland Firefighting out of Ashland, Oregon.

We offer our sincere condolences to his family, friends,and co-workers.

Previously this year, there have been a total of six wildland firefighter fatalities: one aviation accident (plane crash) and five medical emergencies (heart attack). All six were either state or local jurisdiction employees.

Thanks and a hat tip go out to Jeff.

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Person killed escaping flames from Bully Fire

California’s Bully Fire has killed one person, who officials say was likely trying to flee the blaze, local media is reporting. 

The body was discovered inside the fire perimeter on Wednesday; on Thursday CAL FIRE officials confirmed that the person died while likely fleeing the fire when it started on July 11.

It has since burned 10,700 acres and is 47 percent contained, according to CAL FIRE’s general information site. The fire is burning 21 southwest of Redding.

Officials believe the fire was accidentally set when a man was driving his truck to an illegal marijuana in Shasta County. Freddie Alexander Smoke III was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of starting the fire.

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Report released for 2013 smokejumper fatality

smokejumpers on the Hastings fire

File photo of smokejumpers on the Hastings Fire, northwest of Fairbanks, Alaska, May 31, 2011. Photo by Mike McMillan/Alaska Fire Service.

The Bureau of Land Management has released an Accident Investigation Factual Report on the fatality of the smokejumper in Idaho last year. On September 27, 2013 Mark Urban was killed on a parachute jump while conducting an equipment evaluation at a remote airstrip outside of Prairie, Idaho, approximately 50 miles east of Boise.

Mr. Urban and other smokejumpers were collecting data during jumps to validate the vertical speeds and the activation window under which an automatic activation device (AAD) would initiate the opening sequence of either a main or reserve canopy in smokejumper operations. The AAD was not intended to be engaged during the jump and was not thought to be a factor in the cause of the accident. The parachute was to be manually opened.

All of his previous 287 jumps had been from approximately 3,000 feet above ground level (AGL), but the test on September 27 was designed to begin from the 6,000-foot level. The plan was to wait until reaching 3,000 feet AGL to deploy the main parachute. Similar tests had been conducted years earlier and several jumpers successfully executed the procedure earlier that day.

Mr. Urban’s parachute did not deploy until he was 138 feet AGL, which did not result in any significant deceleration. He was killed upon impact with the ground.

After leaving the Twin Otter aircraft, Mr. Urban, as did other jumpers that day, experienced some spinning while descending from 6,000 to 3,000 feet. The jumpers had been briefed on procedures to correct the spin, but while the exact cause of the accident may never be known, at least one of the investigators concluded that it is possible Mr. Urban spun fast enough to create G-forces that caused him to lose consciousness.

Below is an excerpt from the report in the Human Factors section. It was written by Randy McCalip, a LtCol with the U.S. Air Force, trained as a human factors/aerospace physiology expert and military free fall jumpmaster with 16 years of jumping experience.

…I believe the [Mishap Smokejumper] MS experienced enough initial G-force to cause visual, cognitive, and/or physical degradation delaying early necessary action. The MS channelized on fulfilling the T&E jump profile requirements exposing him to longer and higher G-forces resulting in a G-LOC. The GLOC caused the MS to lose all motor function and go limp. This reversed the MS’s spin and eventually slowed the spin enough to return blood flow to the brain. The MS regained consciousness and initiated pull sequence at 138 ft AGL, well below safe deployment altitude.
Gravitational forces were CAUSAL in this mishap.

F. HF Summary
I thoroughly reviewed all factors that possibly caused and contributed to this mishap. Although the team had eye witness testimonies and two different video angles of the mishap, exactly why the MS didn’t pull at the instructed altitude will never be known with 100% certainty. The MS was highly regarded as an exceptional leader and experienced smokejumper that paid attention to details and standards. This HF analysis attempted to piece together the most logical reasons why the MS failed to deploy his main parachute.

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