Volunteer fire department cited by Department of Labor after Ric - | WBTV Charlotte

Volunteer fire department cited by Department of Labor after Richard Sheltra death

Richard Sheltra (Souce: Pineville Volunteer Fire Department) Richard Sheltra (Souce: Pineville Volunteer Fire Department)
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

A volunteer fire department is facing more than $6,000 in fines from the North Carolina Department of Labor after the organization found violations following the death of Richard Sheltra.

Sheltra, a 20-year-old Pineville volunteer firefighter, died while fighting a fire at the Edwin Watts golf store in Pineville in late April.

The Department of Labor fined the Pineville-Morrow Volunteer Fire and Rescue $6,100 for violations, according to a document obtained by WBTV. The citations were issued on October 25 after the inspection began on May 1.

The fire was reported shortly after 9 p.m. at Countryside shopping center, located at 8500 Pineville-Matthews Road. The Edwin Watts golf store, which had closed at 6 p.m. Saturday, was ablaze.

Assistant Fire Marshall Mike Petleski said the fire was caused by a lightning strike.

RELATED: Officials: Fire that killed volunteer firefighter sparked by lightning

Fire officials said Sheltra made a "mayday" call from inside the store within 30 minutes of arriving at the scene.

Over the radio, you can hear firefighters at the scene say Sheltra got lost in the building. He was ultimately found “in distress” before he was brought out of the building, according to a report from the department.

According to an autopsy report, released in July, the Medical Examiner stated Sheltra died of asphyxia. The report also gave insight into what happened to the young firefighter inside the burning store.

RELATED: Autopsy shows Pineville firefighter died of asphyxia

The report states Sheltra's air alarm sounded when he was fighting the fire. He was instructed to leave the burning building but became disoriented.

The report goes on to read once fellow firefighters found Sheltra, he had already collapsed and was unresponsive.

The report goes on to state at first it was thought Sheltra removed his respirator and inhaled the toxic air in the burning building. The investigation shows the respirator was remove after he collapsed.

He was taken to Carolinas Medical Center, but did not survive.

Three of the Department of Labor citations are listed as "serious."

According to the Departmart of Labor, the fire station did not "establish and implement a written respiratory protection program with worksite-specific procedures" when it comes to "firefighters who wear self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), such as the Scott Safety Air-Pak 4.5, during fire fighting operations."

RELATED: 20-year-old Pineville firefighter killed in line of duty

The station was fined $2,100 for that violation.

The station was also cited for not having a second firefighter inside the "immediate and dangerous to life and health (IDLH) atmosphere" inside the fire.

The biggest fine came after the station was cited for not having at least two employees outside the IDLH zone to "provide assistance or emergency rescue."

That citation was issued with a fine of $2,800.

The Department of Labor also issued a fourth citation for OSHA forms that were not maintained in 2013, 2014 or 2015. The document shows that was corrected during the inspections.

RELATED: Mother of fallen firefighter Richard Sheltra on her son's legacy

Pineville's Fire Chief told WBTV's Coleen Harry that an informal conference was held with the Department of Labor about the citations. He said the goal is to get clear definitions and open a dialogue to understand the citations.

He said they would like to turn Sheltra's death, which was tragic, into a positive so the fire service across the country can learn from that incident.

Sheltra worked with the Pineville Volunteer Fire Department for three years. He was named Rookie of the Year in January, though no longer new to the department, and was also recognized for being the member of the department who received the most hours of training last year.

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