Illinois Fire Department Cited by OSHA Over Mayday Bailout

An Illinois fire department is facing eight OSHA citations following an investigation into a 2021 fire that resulted in three firefighters being hospitalized. The fire in a mixed commercial – apartment building in Beardstown led to a mayday and bailout by the three firefighters, each of whom fell approximately 21 feet.

Firefighters initially started with a defensive operation, but switched to offensive when a woman was observed on the second floor. The three firefighters, including the fire chief,  entered without an attack line, and when conditions deteriorated several minutes later, became disoriented. A Mayday was called. Unable to wait for a ladder the firefighters jumped, sustaining injuries including leg, pelvis, rib, sternum and vertebrae fractures.

An investigation conducted by the Illinois Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health resulted in the identification of 15 “indirect causes” of the injuries, and 19 recommendations. The Beardstown Fire Department, a combination department, was issued seven serious OSHA citations and one non-serious citation. Two of the serious citations were considered repeat offenses.

Here is a copy of the 14-page investigation report:

Here is a 2-page press release:

Among the serious violations, three related to violations of the respiratory protection standard (medical exams, fit testing, and annual training), and four related to the fire brigade standard (no organization statement, and three related to lack of training). The non-serious violation pertained to not reporting of the injuries.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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