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Four FFs Caught in Explosion Not Wearing Protective Gear

Four FFs Caught in Explosion Not Wearing Protective Gear

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The Sacramento Bee via YellowBrix

July 14, 2010

SACRAMENTO – The four firefighters injured in an apparent gas explosion at a Sacramento home last week were not wearing crucial protective gear, the Sacramento Fire Department confirmed.

Firefighters David Storck, Scott McKinney, Jeff Coats and Mike Feyh lacked protective gloves and were not wearing department-issued protective masks when they approached an Oak Park home on July 5 after neighbors reported a smell of gas.

When firefighters attempted to enter the home, an explosion ripped through the structure, severely damaging the building and burning the firefighters on their hands and faces.

Sacramento Fire Captain Jim Doucette said he won’t know if the lack of equipment was a violation of department policy until the investigation is completed, but said “it probably would have been a good idea” for the injured firefighters to have been wearing hand and face protection.

“They didn’t have a fire, this was a gas leak. They thought it was winding down, so it may not have been appropriate at the time for them not to be wearing gloves,” Doucette said. “Until the investigation is done we really won’t know.”

The Sacramento Fire Department was fined $8,100 by Cal/OSHA just five days before the explosion for safety violations during a garage fire that occurred back in January. A firefighter suffered second-degree burns to his hands when a fire flashed over him.

The fire department is appealing the fine.

Cal/OSHA spokesman Dean Fryer said the fire department bears responsibility for properly equipping fire crews.

“If they did not have on masks and gloves, it is the fire department’s responsibility to ensure that is provided and it is used,” Fryer said.

Captain Doucette said the responding firemen followed protocol when responding to the gas leak, shutting off gas, electricity and requesting PG&E crews to assist, and even connected a hose to a fire hydrant just to be safe.

“They’ve taken every kind of precaution they could have taken, and in some cases they’ve done more than a lot of crews would have done,” Doucette said.

All four firefighters have been released from the hospital and are expected to recover.