Sunday marks one-year anniversary of firefighter Bruce Britt's death

4 years 2 months 3 weeks ago Sunday, February 22 2015 Feb 22, 2015 Sunday, February 22, 2015 3:51:00 PM CST February 22, 2015 in News
By: Jessica Mensch, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA- Columbia firefighter Bruce Britt died exactly one year ago Sunday while trying to rescue residents trapped by a walkway collapse at the University Village apartments.

Britt died when the second walkway he was on collapsed underneath him. According to a federal report issued in January by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Britt's cause of death was officially listed as suffocation from being crushed by debris.

The report said some of the main factors leading to Britt's death were the building's deterioration which dispatch did not communicate to responders, and the University of Missouri's failure to report the building's condition. The NIOSH report also cited "situational awareness" and "inadequate caller information" as factors that contributed to Britt's death.

The NIOSH report questioned communication between the 911 dispatch center and the fire department. The Columbia Fire Department responded to a call at University Village the day of the walkway collapse, but said a "structural collapse was not visible at their arrival." Shortly after, a walkway collapsed under Britt and he died.

The university came under fire during the investigation for limiting information disclosed to the public.

The University of Missouri closed the apartment complex after Britt's death, and turned the area into a parking lot for MU students.

The University of Missouri also hired Trabue, Hansen & Hinshaw, Inc. to investigate the safety of the remaining campus buildings. Of the 376 campus building in Columbia, 18 were identified as having "immediate concerns," which the university said it addressed earlier this year.

Britt's family has a wrongful death lawsuit pending against the UM System Board of Curators.

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