In a detailed summary by the National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH), the federal agency investigated the collapse that killed two tower technicians last year in West Virginia in addition to a volunteer fire fighter who died after two towers collapsed at the SBA Communications site.
Although the focus of the report was to ensure that fire departments should certify that the incident commander conducts an initial size-up and risk assessment of the scene before beginning operations, it did provide additional details that were not immediately known following the February 1, 2014 incident.
When the second tower, which appeared to be the size of a 25G from a NIOSH photograph, collapsed as a result of the initial collapse of the tower that the two deceased technicians were working on, it barely missed an injured tower technician on the ground that was being dragged by three other fire fighters to safety. But another firefighter was struck in the head by the tower, breaking his helmet, and he died from his injuries.
In part, the NIOSH report recommended that fire departments, especially volunteer departments, should consider limiting their special operations functions to those that they are properly trained and equipped for.
The technicians were employed by S&S Communication Specialists, Inc. of Clarksburg, W.Va. The company was cited by OSHA for two violations totaling $14,000 in fines as a result of the incident. They contested the charges on Aug. 15, 2014.