OSHA Violations Cited In Firefighter Deaths

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) _ The Bridgeport Fire Department has been cited for serious safety violations in connection with a fire last summer that killed two firefighters.

State officials determined the department failed to perform tests on firefighters’ breathing gas tanks, failed to conduct medical evaluations and ensure firefighters were fit, did not make sure all firefighters wore breathing equipment inside the burning building and failed to follow mayday procedures, according to a letter from the state Department of Labor sent to city officials.

Each citation carries a $1,000 penalty. The fire department has 15 days to contest them.
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch said the city was addressing the violations, which were first reported by the Connecticut Post.

“We take this report extremely seriously and have responded accordingly,” Finch said in a statement.
The state fire marshal is still investigating the violations, Finch said.

“The state fire marshal’s report will determine the impact of these particular violations on this very unfortunate incident,” Finch said. “Until this report is complete, it would be premature to speculate on the role that these violations might have played” in the fire.

The July 24 fire resulted in the deaths of Lt. Steven Velasquez and firefighter Michael Baik. Velasquez, 40, died of smoke inhalation and asphyxia; Baik, 49, died from smoke inhalation complicated by a heart condition.

The firefighters were searching for people in need of rescue and ventilating the house when they sent out mayday calls.

They were found unconscious.

Firefighters from around the country and beyond attended the funerals of the two men, both of whom had children.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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