Jeffrey Vaden Chavis, Firefighter

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Firefighter Chavis and members of his department were dispatched to a report of a residential structure fire. When firefighters arrived on-scene, the patio style home was well involved and fire was extending to a second home. Firefighter Chavis relieved another firefighter who had run low on air. He entered an open garage with a charged hoseline and began to apply water to the fire. The garage was situated below the living area above. Five minutes after taking over the handline, Firefighter Chavis was knocked to the ground by a partial collapse of the floor/ceiling assembly above the garage. Firefighter Chavis began to crawl toward the garage door opening with burning debris on top of him. As he neared safety, the remainder of the garage floor/ceiling assembly and the garage door fell on top of him. Firefighter Chavis’ SCBA high-pressure line burned through and he was exposed to direct flame contact for over a minute. Other firefighters and civilians on-scene came to Firefighter Chavis’ aid. He was transported to the hospital by a medical helicopter. He suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 50% of his body. Firefighter Chavis died of complications of his burns on July 12, 2001. The Lexington County Fire Service was fined $3,250 by the South Carolina State Occupational Safety and Health Administration for work safety violations that occurred at the fire where Firefighter Chavis was injured. The major violations included lack of supervision by a commander and lack of communications between the interior and exterior of the hazard zone. A lack of staffing was also cited, 30 minutes into the incident only 5 firefighters were on the scene.

Department information

Lexington County Fire Service
212 South Lake Drive
Lexington, South Carolina 29072

Chief: Russell Rawl

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Jeffrey Vaden Chavis 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: 22
Rank: Firefighter
Classification: Career
Incident date: June 16, 2001 17:00
Date of death: July 12, 2001
Cause of death: Caught or Trapped
Nature of death: Burns
Activity type: Advance Hose Lines/Fire Attack (includes Wildland)
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Residential