I-Team: Flaws Found In Response To Fire That Killed Firefighter

By Charlotte Huffman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia Fire Department report finds flaws in the department’s response to a December house fire that claimed the life of Joyce Craig, the city’s first female firefighter killed in line of duty.

The I-Team obtained Deputy Fire Chief Richard Davison’s analysis which found “real training deficiencies” within the department.

The deficiencies were revealed following the December 9th fire at a West Oak Lane house, where 36-year-old Craig died when she became trapped inside the basement.

Craig issued a mayday call from the basement but according to the review, the department lacks necessary training in mayday operational procedures and PAR (Personnel Accountability Reports) training.

Davison noted in his review that the West Oak Lane fire is not the first time the Philadelphia Fire Department has failed to execute an effective PAR system, which is similar to a roll call.

“It has been repeatedly documented that not knowing who is actively operating on the fire-ground, what they are doing and where they are doing it is contributing to firefighter deaths. Accountability must be an integral and ongoing part of the way the (department) operates and trains,” wrote Davison.

“These firefighters if they knew someone was down they’d be doing everything they could to get to that member immediately. There would be no delay … I know these people and I know if someone was in distress and these guys knew it they would’ve been in there to get her out,” said Joe Schulle, president of Local 22, the union for Philadelphia firefighters and paramedics.

Davison’s report also found delays in response times from various responders.

“It took 18 minutes for Ladder 8 to arrive on location which is a serious concern for everyone involved,” said Schulle.

Other problems noted in the report include inadequate water supply and inadequate ventilation.

“I think most certainly the potential exists that had there been more training this tragedy may not have occurred,” Schulle said.

Davison is recommending all department personnel undergo training in fire-ground communications, mayday procedures, ventilation techniques and basement fire training, among other things.

Schulle says implementing new training requirements is a step in the right direction.

“Hopefully this is a great first step for the department to take serious action and steps to address these concerns,” he said.

The I-Team contacted Philadelphia Police Department Chief Clifford Gilliam for comment in response to Davison’s review.

Late Tuesday Chief Gilliam e-mailed Eyewitness News saying the department has not completed its investigation and Davison’s analysis is not a comprehensive collection of all of the incident-related information inclusive of data, interviews, recordings and other evidence. The formal report, however, is.

Chief Gilliam says the formal report will be issued upon completion of the investigation.

More from I-Team

Watch & Listen LIVE