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Steven M. Olander


An arsonist spread flammable liquid on the stairs of an apartment building from the fourth floor to the second floor and started a fire. The fire progressed quickly and trapped a number of building occupants in their apartments. Firefighter Olander and his ladder company were dispatched to the scene. They proceeded to the rear of the structure and were ordered to effect the rescue of victims trapped by the fire and awaiting rescue at windows on the fourth floor. Due to limited staffing, firefighters were unable to raise a 50-foot ground ladder, and electrical wires in the alley prevented the use of the aerial ladder. Firefighter Olander and 2 other firefighters were in the process of raising a 35-foot ground ladder to a fourth story window. Firefighter Olander was footing the ladder. A fire victim who jumped from the fourth story struck a van and Firefighter Olander simultaneously. Firefighter Olander was knocked to the ground but was able to get back on his feet and continue with rescue efforts. After the incident was concluded, Firefighter Olander complained of severe head, neck, and back pain. Firefighter Olander visited a medical facility at the end of his shift. He was treated and released. Over the next several weeks, Firefighter Olander continued to suffer severe headaches. On January 26, 2002, he collapsed and was admitted to a hospital. He remained in a coma until his death on February 7, 2002. The fire eventually went to 3 alarms. Two residents of the apartment building were killed, a child was stillborn due to injuries received by the mother, and 11 other residents were injured. Firefighter Olander’s death was caused by a ruptured berry aneurysm, a form of cerebral aneurysm. For additional information regarding this incident, please refer to NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program report F2002-14 (
photo of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial
Steven M. Olander was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.

Department information

Detroit Fire Department
250 W Larned St # 1

Detroit, Michigan 48226

Chief: Percy Warmack

View NIOSH Report

Age: 39
Rank: Firefighter
Classification: Career
Incident date: January 10, 2002 02:30
Date of death: February 7, 2002
Cause of death: Struck By
Nature of death: Cerebrovascular Accident
Activity type: Search and Rescue
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Residential

Last updated: June 13, 2012