JOHN K. RYAN
Chicago Sun Times
The Homewood Fire Department was taken to task in a report on how it handled a fire that cost the lives of a firefighter and an elderly resident.
The report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health looked into factors leading to the death of Homewood firefighter-paramedic Brian Carey, 28, during a house fire March 30.
The report concludes the commanding officer and crew that responded to the scene didn't follow some key guidelines for fighting fires. Among the report's findings:
- The commander on the scene, Homewood fire Lt. Scott Moran, did not do a complete assessment of the fire scene before crews were sent into the burning home.
- Poor tactical decisions were made on how to try to extinguish the fire, including sending Carey and fellow firefighters Karra Kopas and Chris Kieta into the building with a hose that was too big to maneuver within the house.
- Firefighters did not stay within visual, physical or vocal contact with each other at all times while fighting the fire. Firefighters inside lost contact with Carey during the fire, and while he was equipped with a handheld radio, it was found in the back pocket of his pants under his firefighting gear, making it inaccessible.
- Moran and crew members outside the home didn't recognize signs of the deteriorating situation and order firefighters out of the building. Thick, black and heavily pressurized smoke billowing from windows on one side of the Homewood house should have warned those outside that a flashover soon could occur.
- The department didn't have adequate staffing to fight the fire. Homewood Fire Chief Bob Grabowski declined comment on the report.
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September 21, 2010