Firefighters from the Washington Fire Department and several mutual aid fire departments responded to a fire in an old motorcycle shop. Firefighter LaBella was a part of the first crew to arrive on the scene. Heavy black smoke was showing from the building.
Firefighter LaBella and another firefighter donned their structural fire fighting PPE, including SCBA, and advanced an attack line into the garage area of the structure. Additional handlines were deployed but the fire was not controlled. The incident commander made preparations for a switch to a defensive strategy.
Firefighter LaBella and his partner had exchanged SCBA cylinders and re-entered the structure. A structural collapse of an awning occurred and trapped Firefighter LaBella and his partner in the rubble. An on-scene Rapid Intervention Crew (RIC) was immediately deployed and removed both firefighters within 15 minutes of the collapse.
Firefighter LaBella was transported to the hospital by ambulance by succumbed to his injuries. The cause of death was listed as asphyxiation due to entrapment.
For additional information regarding this incident, please refer to NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program report F2007-08 (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face200708.html).