FACE Reports

FACEValue: Firefighter dies after contacting overhead power lines

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Case report: #14KY049
Issued by: Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program
Date of incident: Aug. 21, 2014

Four firefighters arrived at a university to assist in a fundraising event. They parked their tower truck close to a hydrant and two drains. Overhead power lines were present. Firefighters 1 and 2 were in the bucket of the tower truck, firefighter 3 was on the turntable of the truck, while firefighter 4 was by the back of the truck. Fundraising participants stood in front of the tower truck and firefighters opened the hose and sprayed them as they sang their school’s song. One witness noticed that while attempting to dock, the bucket moved upward toward the power lines instead of lowering. Firefighter 1, who was in control of the bucket, struck the powered electrical line, sending a charge throughout the truck. Firefighter 1 died one month later from electrical burn complications.

To help prevent similar occurrences:

  • Avoid operating tower trucks near overhead power lines.
  • Ensure firefighters wear protective gear when power lines are present.
  • Designate a spotter on the ground to observe each time the bucket is raised and lowered.
  • Ensure bucket equipment is inspected as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Establish a communication intercom system from base to bucket when an aerial truck is in use.

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