On-Duty Death Notification & Report Comparison: Pennsylvania

By Bill Carey
6 August 2022

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) reported the death of Philadelphia firefighter Benny Robert Hutchins in 2018. Firefighter Hutchins died on 27 June 2018 two days after collapsing while participating in the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Firefighter Survival Program.

Hutchins’ cause and nature of death is listed as Stress/Overexertion and Heart Attack [1].

He was on the third and final day of training when he lost consciousness after exhausting his SCBA air supply and “filter breathing” while inside an entanglement prop. The NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program did not state anything about the specific training itself that were contributing factors but did show ones related to fitness [2]:

  • Undiagnosed hypertensive CVD
  • Infrequent exercise stress tests (ESTs) for firefighters at risk for CVD
  • Lack of annual medical clearance for unrestricted firefighting duties which includes training involving heavy physical exertion
  • Physically strenuous training

Ironically the subject of this training was a recommendation for the same department from a line of duty death during a structure fire in 2014 [3]. It is worth noting that this report calls attention to 13 non-traumatic deaths that involved SCBA maze/confidence training [4].


1. Benny Robert Hutchins. United States Fire Administration. Updated 11 July 2019.
2. “Career Lieutenant Suffers a Sudden Cardiac Event During Fireground Survival Training and Dies 2 days Later-Pennsylvania” NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program. Released 30 June 2022.
3. Ibid, page 5.
4. Ibid, page 25-26.

Photograph courtesy of NIOSH/Philadelphia Fire Department.

Published by Data Not Drama

Data Not Drama is writings that provide a point of critical thought about firefighter fatality data and education, line of duty deaths, and risk. The main focus is to encourage less risk aversion and better knowledge on the subject of firefighter fatalities in firefighters, fire departments, and fire service organizations.

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