PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than two years after Philadelphia Firefighter Joyce Craig died in the line of duty, federal officials have released details of their investigation into what happened and how the department can fix what went wrong.
The 52-page report points to several factors that may have contributed to Craig’s death — including a 21-minute traffic delay of the Rapid Intervention Team, whose sole purpose is to keep firefighters safe.
Lt. Joyce Craig, who was working an overtime shift that December 2014 night, got trapped in a home. The report shows heat melted away parts of a hose on her breathing equipment.
That caused her air to run out prematurely. Craig died at the hospital.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health notes personnel and organizational errors: two female firefighters were in the Middleton Street house at the time — but commanders thought there was only one.
The report finds the confusion cost rescuers valuable time.
Among 10 other recommendations: better field training and communication, upgraded equipment, and improved firefighting techniques.
“This is going to be a long-term project, so years there is no way around that,” Commissioner Adam Thiel said just a day after the report was released. “This is a very complex operating environment. It’ dark. It’s rainy. It’s smoky. It’s hot, can’t find people.”
Meanwhile, officials with Local 22 stood shoulder to shoulder with the commissioner.
“We’ll work with them. We need the resources that come from working in the city from council,” said Local 22 President Andrew Thomas.
In city council chambers, now the work begins to convince council to increase the bottom line on what is already a quarter of a billion dollar operation.
All the while, details of a firefighter who called mayday numerous times for help were fresh on the minds of fire department leadership
“Joyce doing what she did, getting those mayday transmissions out, that was a warrior,” Thiel said. “Like so many things we do, turns out it wasn’t enough.”
The Fire Department says they have already implemented some of the recommended measures.
Craig was the first Philadelphia female firefighter to die in the line of duty. Her estate is suing the manufacturers connected to her breathing equipment. The cause of death on Craig’s autopsy was suffocation.