Read CONN-OSHA notices (link now working)
The Connecticut Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CONN-OSHA) has cited the Bridgeport Fire Department for five “serious” safety violations from the July 24, 2010 Elmwood Avenue fire that killed Lt. Steven Velasquez and Firefighter Michael Baik.
These include failure to perform hydrostatic testing on SCBA cylinders, failure to provide fit testing, failure to conduct medical evaluations for those who wear SCBA, failure to make sure firefighters wore SCBA during interior firefighting, and failure to follow mayday procedures. Each of the violations carries a $1000 fine.
The Connecticut Post, which reported the story, wrote that these violations were cited by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, when the documentation shows these are state findings. As is often the case, CONN-OSHA meets the federal standards. According to its website, ”As a State Plan state, CONN-OSHA adopts and enforces standards that are at least as effective as the federal requirements.”
The initial report also indicated that the department failed to “ensure firefighters were fit”. In fact, the violation reads, “Annual fit testing was not performed on firefighters who wore self contained breathing apparatus while performing interior structure firefighting”.
I contacted the Post, but they only corrected the federal versus state error. Oh well, I tried (fit test reference now fixed on ctpost.com). And I didn’t even have the heart to point out the phrase “the firefighters’ breathing gas tanks” (which I guess is technically correct).
The state medical examiner’s office stated Baik died from smoke inhalation complicated by a heart condition and that Valesquez died from smoke inhalation and asphyxia.
It was later discovered that the third-floor living area was an illegal apartment and had likely not been inspected by fire officials in many years.
Fire Chief Brian Rooneysaid the department is contesting all five violations. He said fire officials will be meeting with CONN-OSHA Monday in Wethersfield. He said the department is refraining from commenting while the state fire marshal is still investigating the events surrounding the fire and deaths. That investigation should be completed in April, he said.