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Friday, December 2, 2011

SFFD faces fines over firefighter deaths

 San Francisco Fire Department faces fines over firefighter deaths, proposed penalties total $21,000.

 Firefighter/paramedic Anthony Valerio, 53, and Lt. Vincent Perez, 48, died from injuries suffered during a flashover

Firefighter/paramedic Anthony Valerio, 53, and Lt. Vincent Perez, 48, both of Engine 26, died from injuries suffered during a flashover at the building June 2.

The state division of OSHA issued three serious citations and one general citation against the department, saying it failed to follow safety procedures for workers entering a life-threatening environment during and before the response.

The citation document said during the incident, there was a period of time in which the radio communication between Engine 26 and the outside incident command was left unresponded to.

In addition, at one point a battalion chief entered the structure alone and did not remain in contact with the firefighters inside. OSHA rules require firefighters to enter at least in pairs and to remain in visual or voice contact with another at all times.

The final serious violation focused on the three-man crew of Engine 26, which was the first to arrive on the scene.

"When the first arriving unit responded at the scene, 2 of the 3-man crew went inside the house to locate and fight the fire," according to the report.

"The 3rd and only firefighter was left outside monitoring and handling the pumps from the engine and was setting up the hoseline.

"There was no second firefighter available and the one who was present was not available to perform assistance or rescue activities without jeopardizing the safety or health of any firefighter working at the scene."

The state agency also determined the department was responsible for a general violation in failing to ensure that its employees complied with its injury and illness prevention program.

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