NIOSH releases report on Mich. LODD fire

Brian Woehlke, 29, was killed on May 8, 2013 while battling a strip mall fire

WESTLAND, Mich. — The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health did not recommend any further actions in its final report on the 2013 line of duty death of Wayne-Westland firefighter Brian Woehlke. reported that the 113-page report investigation the May 8, 2013 death of 29-year-old firefighter Woehlke provides a detailed account of what happened during the fatal fire, which has been ruled arson and homicide.

The report details what happened during the fire at Marvaso's Italian Grille/the Electric Stick, which was located in a strip mall. Woehlke entered from the front of the restaurant and was inside the pool hall part of the building with two other firefighters stretching a 1.5-inch hose in conditions described as high heat and heavy smoke. Three firefighters were unsuccessfully attempting to locate the seat of the fire.

Firefighter Brian Woehlke (Courtesy photo)
Firefighter Brian Woehlke (Courtesy photo)

The hose team decided to exit the structure. As they were leaving, Woehlke became separated and an incident commander called over the radio for Woehlke, who responded, giving his location as being at the rear of the building.

He later gave a radio transmission that he was out of air. A RIT was activated but was unable to locate him before a flashover occurred and the roof collapsed.

Woehlke, a probationary firefighter who had been on the job for nine months, was later located and pronounced dead on the scene. He died of smoke and soot inhalation.

"NIOSH investigates all fatalities to see if there was anything we can do differently," Fire Chief Michael Reddy said. "There are five or six things for us to look at — we were already doing it. Now we're really emphasizing it."

The report notes that both fire engines responding to the scene had fire sergeants acting as captains and there was a captain acting as a battalion chief.

"The staffing that day was a major issue. At 8 a.m. we were waiting for guys to transfer from other stations," Mitch Tokarski, Wayne-Westland Firefighters union president, said. "There were 19-20 positions lost at the fire department at the time."

Other report findings:

  • Woehlke's SCBA was tested and found that it was properly functioning and met a required 45-minute rated service time. It was noted that the SCBA did not meet the NFPA standard.
  • The fire is still under investigation by the Michigan State Police.
  • The department had no information on the point or points of origin of the fire.
  • There were no fire sprinklers installed in the 30,000-square foot business. Metal fire doors did come down separating the restaurant from the pool hall.
  • Woehlke had completed training the department required of all firefighters, including Firefighter 1 and 2, driver training, hazardous materials awareness and operations training and emergency medical training. He had also received station-level training on engine operations, firefighter survival, hand tools, hose and ladder operations, power tools, pump operations, SCBA and ventilation.

Read the full report below.

Career Probationary Firefighter Runs Out of Air and Dies in Commercial Structure Fire by Ed Praetorian

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