NIOSH: Protect Firefighters during Structure Fires with Collapse Zones

Published May 21, 2014

A new NIOSH "Workplace Solutions" publication addresses the significant risk for injury or death due to structural collapse during firefighting operations. According to the agency, 11.5 percent of firefighter deaths from 2000 to 2012 were caused by structural collapse.

To help protect firefighters when there is potential for a structural collapse, NIOSH recommends that the incident commander establish defensive operations and a collapse zoneā€”the area around a structure's perimeter that could contain debris if it collapsed. Collapse zones should be visually marked by colored tape, signage cones, flashing beacons, fences, or other means, the agency states. In instances when visual identification is not possible or practical, the incident commander should communicate the collapse zone area to all personnel via radio or other methods.

In addition to these recommendations, NIOSH's publication includes two case studies; controls to minimize hazards and risks to firefighters before, during, and after an incident; and a list of training materials and additional information.

View the publication on NIOSH's website.