Boy Dies In Philadelphia Fire; Closest Engine Company Closed

Reprinted with Permission

PHILADELPHIA - Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers is defending his department's response to a fatal fire that killed a 12 year old autistic boy.

Neighbors say the closest fire station, Engine 57, was closed when the fire erupted Saturday night because of the city's "rolling brownouts." Fire department records indicate firefighters arrived on the scene three minutes after receiving the call. But there are reports the first responder to arrive was actually a battalion chief in an SUV. A fire truck from Engine 68 didn't arrive until several minutes later. That station is just over a mile away from where the fire was burning on South 55th Street.

Commissioner Ayers explained on "Good Day Philadelphia" the nearby crew "left the fire house, went to pick up their equipment. They were actually going to change the apparatus out. That's the reason they were not at the station. But that was a perfectly normal operation." Ayers said "the operation was no different than any other operation that would go on normally during the day or in the evening any place in the city."

Ayers said when firefighters arrived at the burning house it was clear the house had been smoldering for quite a while. "It's just obvious it had been smoldering for some time. It broke out, there was a lot of fire. This fire was not called in immediately after it started." Ayers explained "when firefighters got here they knocked the fire down, they went to rescue this 12 year old boy who had unfortunately lost his life in this fire. Two of our firefighters actually fell through the stairwell trying to come back down after not being able to get to the young boy right away."

"When we stop and we think about there was no early warning in this house. It was smoke alarms, they were not connected properly." Ayers said an adult, possibly the father, struggled to get the boy out of the house. "It sounds like he tried to get him out but just was unsuccessful."

The mother escaped on the roof, the boy was found in the back of the house. Two neighboring homes were also damaged.

Fire Kills Autistic Boy In W. Philly

Authorities say a fire in a West Philadelphia house killed a 12-year-old autistic boy and injured two firefighters and a female resident.

The blaze on South 55th Street was reported shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday and also damaged three other houses, displacing more than a dozen people. Investigators say the boy was found in a second-floor room.

Firefighters were able to rescue a woman from the porch roof, and she was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

A fire department spokeswoman says two firefighters were also taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injures.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Fire officials say the home had smoke alarms but they were not functioning properly.

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When is the City of Philadelphia going to learn that these Brown Outs Cost Lives!!!!!!
To be the devil's advocate here, do we know for a fact that the brownouts cost this boy his life?

Could he have been saved if the nearby station wasn't closed? We will never know.

The reality is, that there will be fires where people will die, no matter how close we are, how well equipped, how well trained and how quickly we can get to a scene.

That's the harsh reailty of what we do....
The odds would have been a lot better in his favor, had that company been in service. I think you would feel a whole lot different had that been your child. Ask yourself when things get bad financially for cities, why is it the first place they look to cut are Fire and Police. There are no other places to cut. Don't tell me they exhausted all other options. All the unnecessary fat cats and useless programs have been eliminated.
Tony, the article states quite clearly that it appears the building had been smoldering for some time.

This child could've been dead for some time before the first truck arrived. Then again, he may not have been.

But you cannot automatically put two and two together and assume the brownout contributed to the death.

Brownout aside, what if they were on another response? The situation would've been the EXACT same- they would've had to wait for the next closest station to respond. The outcome could've potentially been the same.
How many more assumptions are you going to render? Now you throw in what if the company was on another response, next you'll say what if they had a flat or the rig would not start, or what if they got into an accident,on responding. How many more "what is" do you want to throw in here. The point is the response from the very begining was delayed, and it was caused by the brownout. So from the very begining the child had two strikes against him, the brownout was strike three. I can't automatically assume the brownout contributed to his death and you can' t say that it didn't.
I can't automatically assume the brownout contributed to his death and you can' t say that it didn't.

And that's my point Tony! For anyone to straight out assume it is the case, is plain wrong.

The way this article is written borders on sensationalism. The brownout can not be automatically blamed or linked...
Please also take into consideration that there were not any working smoke detectors, this adds considerably to the delay in getting out safely. I have been in the fire service for 17 years and even with the best closest response the outcome may not even be different. What was stated early in the thread are not assumptions but real world scenarios and someone is always looking to point blame, the real tragedy is this child died from a number of factors, not just a closed station.
I'll address this issue in greater detail sometime tomorrow, but for now let me just say that it's the city's contention that "brownouts" have NO negative impact on public safety. Is it safe to "assume" that such a statement on the part of the city is complete bullshit?
Spot on!

The Coroners Report (I think you guys call 'em a Medical Examiner?) may in fact confirm that he was dead for some time before the first unit arrived.

The brown out then turns out to be a coincidence and nothing more.
That is the point I am trying to make brother, in all honesty for this poor child the odds were stacked against him from the beginning, one of the worse things we can do in the fire service is base our opinions on emotion and not take in all the facts. Stay safe everyone.
raging isn't quite what it said. Smoke will kill before the fire gets to you.
Dear Mayor Nutter,
I hope you're happy. Shutting down fire stations is senseless. I understand you need to save money. However im sure that money could be taken from somewhere else, like your paycheck. You cant put a price on saving a life, but because of your stupid decisions a 12 year old mentally challenged kid died. Ugh, Do you... politicians ever consider the consequences of cutting emergency response? nope, didnt think so. Most of the time all you guys care about is making your wallet fatter, actually all the time. Hope you're happy that you have me on a rant at 2 am.
Seth Yahraes
Small Town Volunteer Firefighter.


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