Firefighter LODDs Due to Lightning-Induced CSST Failure

Greetings Fire Service Leaders –

The ATF recently complete a multi-year study and released a YouTube presentation on two firefighter line of duty deaths due to lightning-induced Corrugated Stainless-Steel Tubing (CSST) failure that will of interest to your members. We ask that you share the below information with your members.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division provided technical assistance to the Howard County Maryland Office of the Fire Marshal at the scene of a large residential fire located at 7005 Woodscape Drive on the morning of July 23, 2018. A fire occurred in the 8,400 square foot (sq. ft.) single family residence that resulted in the Line of Duty Death (LODD) of Firefighter (FF) Nathan Flynn. Investigators also requested assistance from the ATF Fire Research Laboratory (FRL). ATF personnel utilized field fire testing, large-scale laboratory fire testing, advanced computer fire modeling and electronic data sources to assist with determining the origin and cause of the fire, the route of fire spread throughout the structure and the events that led to the firefighter MAYDAY and LODD.

The purpose of the report and associated video timeline was to analyze the sequence of fire events that ultimately led to the LODD of Firefighter Nathan Flynn. Forensic data was then compiled to generate a comprehensive video fire timeline, including: forensic lightning strike data, 911 calls, fire dispatch/operations audio, MAYDAY audio, forensic Apple Watch GPS/movement/biometric data, electronic SCBA data, portable radio movement/channel data, advanced computer fire modeling, field fire testing, large-scale fire testing, three-dimensional building measurement scans, drone footage and incident photographs/video. Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS), a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) computer fire modeling program, was utilized to gain a better understanding of the flow of heat, smoke, and fire gases throughout the residence.

This timeline video concludes with five specific educational points that were developed as a result of the ATF analysis, including a side-by-side comparison of similarities between both line of duty incidents. For additional details regarding the ATF analysis, computer fire modeling and report conclusions, refer to the comprehensive ATF Analysis report for this incident. With the support of the Celeste Flynn and the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, this video timeline was shared as an educational tool for the fire service and fire investigation community.

Fire Development Analysis of the LODD of FF Flynn (St. John ATF CFIC Research Project)

You Tube Video Timeline

0:00 MAYDAY Incident Overview

0:40 LODD Incident Introduction with Celeste Flynn and Sara Laird

2:34 ATF Fire Timeline Analysis Overview

4:53 7005 Woodscape Drive Building Construction and CSST Failure Analysis

7:15 911 Call Recording/Fire Dispatched

9:05 1st Due Engine On Scene Report (Smoke Showing)

10:30 1st Due Engine Initial Entry

12:15 1st Due Engine Enters Basement

14:44 FF Flynn Enters 1st Floor/Collapse/MAYDAY

20:08 RIT Locates FF Flynn in Crawlspace

21:48 ATF Fire Analysis Conclusions

28:03 CSST Arc Hole Formation Explanation

30:58 Captain Joshua Laird Ball Road, LODD Audio/Review, Frederick County, MD

35:08 Comparison of Ball Road and Woodscape Drive Fire Incidents

40:52 Sara Laird Closing Remarks

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