Thomas Brooks, Captain

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Three Pittsburgh (PA) Fire Department firefighters died after a stairway collapsed, trapping them in the basement. Captain Brooks, Firefighter Conroy, and Firefighter Kolenda died from asphyxiation when they ran out of air while operating a hose line in the basement. Investigations by the City of Pittsburgh and others after the fire indicated that problems with incident command and accountability were key factors contributing to the firefighters' deaths. Other factors included a possible lack of crew integrity and a failure of the crew to take emergency survival actions that may have helped them escape. All of the deceased firefighters were wearing PASS devices that were found in the "off" position. The fire was incendiary and a suspect was arrested. As part of the Major Fires Investigation Project, the U.S. Fire Administration conducted a detailed analysis of this incident, and its findings are contained in the report, "Three Firefighters Die in Pittsburgh House Fire."

Department information

Pittsburgh Fire Department
200 Ross Street, 5th Floor
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219

Thomas Brooks 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.
Age: 42
Rank: Captain
Classification: Career
Incident date: February 14, 1995
Date of death: February 14, 1995
Cause of death: Caught or Trapped
Nature of death: Asphyxiation
Activity type: Advance Hose Lines/Fire Attack (includes Wildland)
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire