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Investigation finds several violations of FD policy in Chicago LODD

Ill. OSHA report highlights accountability, communication among several errors in the death of a relatively new firefighter



By Bill Carey

CHICAGO — The Illinois Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (IL OSHA) released several recommendations to improve firefighter safety following the investigation into the line-of-duty death of a Chicago firefighter in 2021.

Firefighter Mashawn Plummer, who had graduated from the Chicago Fire Academy six months earlier, was critically injured the morning of Dec. 16, 2021, while battling an apartment building fire. He died five days later, WCIA reported.

OSHA investigators reported the primary cause of Plummer’s death was a catastrophic malfunction of his self-contained breathing apparatus. The low-pressure hose connecting his facepiece to his SCBA tank tore in two places; it remains unknown why the hose tore during the fire. When replaced during the investigation, the SCBA passed the flow test.

[PREVIOUSLY: Chicago FFs honor fallen brother who died days after being severely injured in fire]

The investigation found that several factors that contributed to Plummer’s death were also in violation of the department’s standard operating procedures, including:

  • Firefighters must enter a structure together, stay together and exit together.
  • Company officers must ensure that all firefighters under their command are on appropriate tactical radio channels.
  • Personnel on scene, including battalion chiefs, company officers and firefighters, must monitor tactical radio channels for critical reports.

The investigation found that Plummer’s company and the incident commander did not follow these procedures. The incident commander was unaware of the mayday due to a radio call until the RIT chief reported the mayday was being called on the main/dispatch channel and not the fireground channel.

As a team of firefighters began to search for Plummer, and a RIT company arrived on the scene, the incident commander reported there was no mayday and began conducting a roll call.

Nearly five minutes after Plummer had activated his PASS device, the incident commander then declared an emergency for a missing firefighter.

Plummer was located by the first team of firefighters eight minutes later and removed from the building.

Read the report: The Marmora Incident: Firefighter seriously injured and later dies after loss of accountability at a residential fire