Chapter 8
Case Studies:
Industrial Accidents
and Structural Failure
Monongah Mine Disaster, West Virginia, 1907
Stage 1 of the Disaster
You are the fire chief for a local municipality. At 10:15 in the morning on
December 6, you receive a dispatch that there has been an explosion at the local
mining operation near your city (Boise State University, 2008).
1. What is your plan of action? e fire chief should alert all first responders that
there has been an accident at the mine and then locate any type of resource
that can assist first responders with digging (e.g., heavy machinery), oxygen,
and breathing apparatuses, hazardous materials experts, medical supplies,
and personnel, as well as engineers that can assist first responders in getting
to any trapped miners in a safe and timely manner.
2. What is your communication plan? e fire chief should contact the owners of
the mining operation, local government officials, and any other entity that
may be able to provide resources for search and rescue operations.
122 ◾  Case Studies in Disaster Response and Emergency Management
Stage 2 of the Disaster
You have now been told that two mine shafts, numbers 6 and 8, have collapsed
and there are over 300 workers trapped in the tunnels where there is presence of
poisonous gases. It turns out that none of your first responders have the appropri-
ate breathing apparatuses to contend with the poisonous gases, and therefore the
first responders must work in shifts. In addition, the main entrances to the tunnels
are completely blocked with two strings of iron ore cars, rock, and twisted metal
debris caused by the blast that induced the cave-in (Boise State University, 2008).
1. What type of resources will you need at this point in the rescue process? e fire
chief needs to acquire appropriate breathing apparatuses from other organiza-
tions if they are not available to him currently. e fire chief should also obtain
heavy machinery to dig tunnels into the mine to retrieve the miners. is
activity should be conducted under the supervision of an engineer to ensure
the safety of the first responders and to advise how best to dig the victims out
of the rubble. Additional manpower should also be sought from nearby com-
munities in the form of first responders and volunteers. To assist in protecting
your first responders, you should limit how long and how many shifts each
first responder works at clearing the mine. In addition, you should make sure
that there is plenty of water on-site to ensure that the first responders are well
2. What is your communication plan? e fire chief should be keep in constant
contact with the mining company as well as maintain close contact with his
first responders on the scene. In addition, the fire chief should also begin
to release information about the status of the rescue attempts to keep the
families of the trapped miners informed.
Stage 3 of the Disaster
It is now 2 days later, on December 8, and you now are contending with two fires
that are hindering your rescue work (Boise State University, 2008). In addition, you
now have a large crowd of friends and family members gathering at the front gates
to hear news about their loved ones who were trapped in the mines (Boise State
University, 2008). Your rescuers are now beginning to bring bodies up from the
mine shaft and there is no place to put the bodies.
1. What is your plan of action? e fire chief needs to designate a location for the
mortuary so that bodies can be identified and families can be contacted or
asked to identify the remains. Additionally, the fires will now have to take a
priority over any further search and rescue attempt since the fires could jeop-
ardize not only the miners that could still be alive, but also the first responders
and support personnel.

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