Va. FD fined nearly $20K over FFs injured in apartment fire
A labor report assessed fines for several safety violations after 8 Hampton firefighters were injured in apartment fire
By Bill Carey
HAMPTON, Va. — The Hampton Fire Department has been fined nearly $20K for safety violations after an investigation into an apartment fire that injured eight firefighters on Oct. 21, 2022.
The city has paid almost $19,978 in penalties for occupational safety and health violations, WTKR reported.
In the fire, a man called 911 saying his mother’s electric blanket caught fire. The man moved the blanket to the shower and the other things that were burning were taken to the apartment balcony. The man was able to get everyone out of his apartment, but the fire was rapidly growing and spreading to other apartments.
Firefighters went inside the home with an uncharged hose line. Putting the fire out was further delayed after communication issues prevented crews from getting more water when they called for it, WAVY reported.
The city was fined $9,989 for failing to provide a safe work environment.
The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry report states, “The employer failed to furnish to each of his employees safe employment and a place of employment free from the recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause serious physical harm to employees in that the employees were exposed to the hazards of thermal burns, smoke inhalation, asphyxiation, from an apartment structural fire where the incident commander immediately entered the structure, failing to ensure that the one firefighter left outside the danger zone properly charged the hand hose brought in for fire attack and search and rescue.”
Another fine of $9,989 was levied for communication problems during the fire. The report stated a firefighter providing water supply was not on the same tactical radio frequency as the crew who went inside the building.
“The firefighter responsible for providing the water at Engine 10 was also unable to see the stairwell where the initial entry crew entered from his position. He was unaware the entry firefighters were injured until it was reported to him later after they had been transported. The water supply to the hand hose was not properly charged and no water was flowing to the interior firefighting crew. The use of the primary radio channel, TAC 2 channel, and TAC 6 channel for the incident caused confusion and overlapping safety-sensitive transmission to the Battalion Chief once in command.”
The city was also cited, but not fined for a firefighter inadequately trained in how to use a hoseline and for some helmets having stickers that blocked reflective stickers and could have made them hard to see.