Kimberly Ann Smith, Firefighter

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Firefighter Mayo and Firefighter Smith responded with Engine Company 76, three other engines, two ladder companies, two chief officers, an ambulance, and support staff to the report of a fire in a McDonald’s restaurant. The fire was reported at 4:30 a.m. Engine Company 76 was comprised of a captain, a fire apparatus operator, and two firefighters. Engine 76 was the first fire fighting unit on the scene 8 minutes later and reported 6-foot flames visible from the roof. The flames appeared as if they might be venting from an exhaust fan, possibly indicating a grease fire. The captain ordered his firefighters to advance an attack line into the interior of the structure for fire control. No fire was visible in the interior of the restaurant. The firefighters from Engine 76 were joined by other firefighters who also advanced attack lines to the interior. At 4:52 a.m., the incident commander ordered all firefighters out of the building in order to transition to a defensive attack mode. The flames visible from the roof had grown to 30 feet in height, and fire had become visible in the kitchen area of the restaurant. Moments later, the captain from Engine 76 concluded that his firefighters were missing and notified the incident commander. A second alarm was requested at 5:02 a.m. and rescue attempts were begun. A number of rescue attempts were made. At 5:27 a.m., the incident commander struck a third alarm. Shortly thereafter, a ladder company opened the rear door of the restaurant and made access to the back of the kitchen area. A PASS device had been heard alarming in the kitchen area, and a firefighter was able to see a downed firefighter as he looked into the back door. Firefighter Mayo was discovered with his facepiece in-place, his regulator not connected to the facepiece, and with his SCBA partially removed and entangled in wires. He was removed, treated at the scene, in the ambulance, and at the hospital. Despite these efforts, he was pronounced dead at the hospital. Given the amount of time that had passed and the likelihood that Firefighter Smith was buried in debris, the search effort transitioned into a recovery mode. Firefighter Smith was found at approximately 7:13 a.m. within 6 feet of the rear door of the restaurant. She was entangled in wires and a pair of wire cutters were found near her body. She was wearing an SCBA but the status of her facepiece and regulator could not be determined. Both firefighters died of asphyxia due to smoke inhalation. Firefighter Mayo’s carboxyhemoglobin level was found to be 26 percent and the level for Firefighter Smith was found to be 52 percent. The fire was intentionally set by a group of juveniles attempting to conceal a burglary attempt. Four individuals were convicted of crimes with sentences ranging from 2 to 35 years. Additional information about this incident may be found in NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation F2000-13.

Department information

Houston Fire Department
1205 Dart Street

Houston, Texas 77007

Chief: Acting Chris Connealy

View NIOSH Report »

Kimberly Ann Smith 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: 30
Rank: Firefighter
Classification: Career
Incident date: February 14, 2000 05:01
Date of death: February 14, 2000
Cause of death: Caught or Trapped
Nature of death: Asphyxiation
Activity type: Search and Rescue
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Public Assembly