Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.
FirefighterNation.com Blogger Says Response To Fatal Feb. 5 Fire “Was A Fiasco”
A retired veteran firefighter and paramedic from Caroline County Fire and Rescue blogged here that the handling of a fatal fire on Feb. 5 on Spotswood Furnace Road was was “a fiasco from the moment it was dispatched to the time units cleared the call.”
The writer, Brady Grim, says that “The first in Engine Company did find one victim inside the house on the primary search of the house and removed her, but she was not injured. After that patient was removed, the companies on the scene thought that they had removed everyone from the house and were seen in the front yard of the residence high fiving each other and congratulating each other because they knew they would get an award for this.”
Spotsylvania County Deputy Daniel Babcock’s police report for this Feb. 5 fire states that he saw firefighters putting gear away and sitting around after the first victim was rescued. Babcock assumed that the firefighters thought everyone was out of the house.
However, Sandy Hill was still in her second-floor bedroom on the phone with a 911 dispatcher. After more than 20 minutes searching, firefighters found Hill dead in her bedroom. According to the internal investigation, search teams passed over Hill’s bedroom door numerous times before actually opening it. A picture of the door shows numerous hand prints and hand swipes. The interview notes state that volunteers had a hard time finding the door because it was a room inside a room, the door was missing the knob and there was a lot of clutter.
A primary search is the first search of a structure for victims and it is supposed to be quick and methodically done. Every door and every room is supposed to be checked and tossed–even closets. Some volunteers stated in their interviews that they thought the door was to a closet.
“Finally, a crew found [Hill] and removed from the residence 20+ minutes after arrival of the first in units. Does this sound accepatble (sic) to you? It sure does not to me! There were other mistakes made on this call. so many mistakes that the Chief of the Spotsylvania County Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management ordered a full investigation into this incident.”
Grim is asking people to read what the county released on its webpage and comment on his blog. Keep in mind that what the county released is not the full investigation but a summary of the investigation. Last week I obtained my copy of the full investigation, which contains pictures, diagrams, notes of interviews of the volunteers who responded that early morning and other documents.
Brady Grim for 23 years worked as a firefighter and paramedic and he retired as captain from the Caroline County Fire and Rescue in November 2008 because of a disability. He is now the chairman of the King William County Emergency Services / All Hazards Commission. He also is the deputy emergency management coordinator for the Emergency Operations Center.