Report Recommends SAFD Changes Following Deadly Fire

posted by Jim Forsyth - 

A second report on last year's deth of San Antonio Firefighter Scott Deem in a massive fire at a health club on the northwest side concludes that the death 'was preventable,' News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Deem died and another firefighter was critically hurt fighting a fire that turned out to be arson at Ingram and Loop  410 in May of 2017.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reviewed the conditions surrounding Deem's death and says one cause was what it called 'firefighter freelancing,' meaning the innate drive of firefighters to rush into burning buildings and save lives and property.

Chief Charles Hood agrees that the level of self sacrifice and aggressiveness is a key quality in a firefighter, but sometimes, it 'needs to be tempered.'

"We are aggressive in understanding our limitations," he said.  "Understanding that we can't put out every single fire."

The report says firefighters should take risks only in a coordinated operations, and not acting on their own.

"The San Antonio Fire Department is an aggressive fire department, but what we have to do is make sure we are aggressive in our fitness, aggressive in our training."

The report also blames several other factors in the death of Deem and the serious injuries suffered by firefighter Scott Phipps.

They include coming up with specific guidelines for fighting 'wind driven fires' as was the one that killed Deem, and changing the city laws to require fire suppression sprinkler systems in all buildings.  Currently, buildings that were constructed before the laws requiring sprinklers in new structures are grandfathered, and, in many cases, don't have to install sprinklers.

That was the case in the fire at the apartment complex in San Marcos this past July where five people were killed.

The fire was determined to be arson, and the lessee of the building, who was allegedly hoping to get out of the terms of his lease, is facing felony charges.

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