Boy Dies In Philadelphia Fire; Closest Engine Company Closed

WTFX
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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Replies to This Discussion

As stated the fire was unreported for an extended amount of time. Its disgusting that the Phili Fire/UNIONS would try to slant this to benefit their own pay. THE ONLY REASON THE CITY WAS FORCED TO CUT SERVICES IS BECAUSE YOUR GREEDY UNIONS WOULD NOT ACCEPT PAY CUTS SO THEY WERE FORCED TO REDUCE STAFF. THIS IS ON YOUR HEAD PHILI FIRE/UNION! I'M SORRY YOUR $100K PER YEAR SALARY ISN'T ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU HAPPY.
I don't know how long that station has been there, but the fire department had it built there for a reason! We all know what that reason was for... period! Brown outs will cost lives and property!! There are other ways to cut the budget.

I don't know how much a Philly firefighter makes, and I don't care! What I do know... is that the station was closed, and no one responded from that station, the one the city had placed there for a reason in the first place!!!
The issue here is that government is out of control. Police and Fire are vital services that should never be cut. Politicians use public safety cuts to get what they want. This policy needs to stop, and legislation needs to be passed that gaurantees funding for these vital safety services. The people they should be terminating are the bureaucrats. People who work for other agencies, or this problem will continue as our states continue to run short of money. What a tragedy that could have been avoided had we prioritized public safety ahead of all other spending needs.
Who cares what a Philly FF makes. Their pay scale has nothing to do with a loss of life. Any time you cut man power or close stations, the result is bad for John Q. Public. If we can spend millions to build pro sport stadiums why cant we afford fire,police and ems. The city is who said we'll pay you guys what you want, so the city needs to figure out how to keep those stations open and the public protected.
I spent over 40-years in the federal, state, and local fire service with 14-departments; you can read in the article it was not rolling brownouts that caused the death, it was the parents. Who in their right mind would not have a working smoke detector in their home? The child had been dead for a long, long time and the fire had not been noticed. A working smoke detector was what was needed, including decent parents.
John,

So which is it, less government, "The issue here is that government is out of control."
or more government, "...legislation needs to be passed that gaurantees funding for these vital safety services."

You can't have it both ways, you have to pick one.
YOUR GREEDY UNIONS WOULD NOT ACCEPT PAY CUTS SO THEY WERE FORCED TO REDUCE STAFF.

Wow, really? So you know everything that was going on in Philly there to make such a remark?


From your profile:
New Haven
Fire/Rescue Department - Paid
Retired


My guess is if you had 25 years on the dept, you were also in a union. Now you state you are retired living off of benefits fought for you by the union correct? Yet, now being retired it is because of greed of the union that this tragedy occurred right?

There is much more to the issue than just the union here, no matter how much people want to spin it that way. The city made the choice to brownout, this happened, maybe the kid couldn't be saved anyway, but if not for brownouts, there may have been a chance.
lutan,

The boy might have been saved if not for the brownout, he had almost no shot with the brownout.

The city is trying to make people believe the brownouts pose no danger to the public and that the fire department can do more with less. The brownouts do pose a danger to the public. The department can't do more with less. The department can't do the same with less. The department can only do less with less.
Old Timer,

Regarding your post - and I mean your entire post - where are you getting your information?
Frank,

West Philadelphia is one of the most depressed areas in the city - a city of many depressed areas. It's not unusual for people in abject poverty to be without smoke detectors.

As for your next-to-last sentence, how do you know any of that?
The boy might have been saved if not for the brownout, he had almost no shot with the brownout.
And he had almost no shot if the station was committed at another call too.

The brownout is a potential issue, but it is not the only contributing factor in the death.
lutan,

And if the firefighters were all killed in an accident responding to the fire, the kid would have had no shot. That's not what happened. They weren't committed to another call. The brownout was the critical contributing factor. And the city is saying the brownout was not a factor AT ALL!

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