According to an article in the Leesburg Today newspaper, specifically, the violation is for "employees that were exposed to fire hazards while engaged in search, rescue and interior structural firefighting activities at a single family residence." LCFR has presented additional information to the state agency in an effort to reverse the findings of a violation. This is the department’s first occupation health and safety citation.
The document states that there was insufficient staffing on site at the time that fire-rescue crews entered the burning home on Meadowood Court near Leesburg. The November citation does not impose a fine because Virginia law doesn’t allow penalties against public agencies.
As you may know, around 1300 hours on Sunday, May 25, Firefighters entered the house to perform a search and to begin attacking the working fire. At that time, an engine and tower ladder were on the scene with no other command support or companies. While there we no clear indications of people trapped, but since no one from the home met the FF’s on arrival, the OIC made the decision to conduct the search. At that point, there was heavy fire on the C side extending up and into the structure. While searching, conditions deteriorated rapidly, a MAYDAY was then transmitted and the trapped (and injured) firefighters were forced to escape through an upstairs window. Six of the seven injured men and women have returned to work but one career Lieutenant is still recovering from his burn injuries after a long-term stay at Washington Hospital Center.
A separate three-month regional investigation into the incident resulted in 64 recommendations for the fire-rescue department, ranging from additional training programs, communication processes and staffing. The final report (link above) suggests an increase to the minimum staffing requirements for engines, trucks and rescue companies to 4 firefighters but unlikely due to the fiscal issue.
The citation also recommends the implementation of Standard 1500 from the NFPA, which addresses the two-in-two-out policy where a minimum of two employees must be located outside the fire when at least two employees enter the fire. County Chief Joe Pozzo said they do follow a two-in-two-out policy, but that the potential for imminent life danger caused the Captain on the scene to make a judgment call. Here is a link to the entire article: http://www.leesburg2day.com/articles/2008/12/12/news/fp334fire121208.txt