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Incident Name:
Date: 3/16/99
Personnel: Charles James Vodak
Age: 45
Agency/Organization: Dunning Fire Department, Dunning NE
Position: firefighter

Summary: Firefighter Vodak and other members of his department had been fighting a prairie fire for over four hours. Firefighter Vodak complained of chest pains and experienced a heart attack. Other firefighters performed CPR on Firefighter Vodak for an hour as they waited for an ambulance to arrive at the isolated fire location. The path of the fire was ten miles wide in some places and it eventually consumed 70,000 acres.


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Dunning Fire Department, Dunning, NE

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • USFA Memorial Database: Charles James Vodak
  • Information included in the Firefighter Fatality Report for 1999
  • Excerpt from Protective Clothing for Wildland Fire Suppression ...

    Protective Clothing for Wildland Fire Suppression

    The article that this was transcribed from is no longer online -- was at under archives_files/mauney_wildland.pdf

    The following portion was apparently a MTDC review of deaths of firefighters (1985-1999) wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) not designed for wildland fire conditions.

    The following has info on firefighters that died... Ch 8 (pp 26-27) heart attack and heat stroke fatalities.

    "The following individual firefighter fatality information was obtained from NFPA, NIOSH, and OSHA investigation reports as well as personal interviews with department personnel."


    Mid-West and West Coast Fatalities

    On March 16, 1999, Firefighter Charles James “Chuck” Vodak (age 45) died of a heart attack after fighting a prairie fire for more than 4 four hours in structural firefighting clothing. This is one of the deaths in 1999 where the provision and use of personal protective clothing possibly could have prevented his death.

  • MTDC: 1993 - Components of Wildland Fire Personal Protective Equiipment (PPE)


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