TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson has released the fire department's own report on the January 26, 2014 fire that killed two of its own. The internal report outlines a series of events that led to the deaths of firefighters Stephen Machcinski and Jamie Dickman at 528 Magnolia Street.
The report is 82 pages and gives specific details of what happened that tragic day. It says some factors, like weather conditions and road closings,
were out of the fire department's control but others should have been avoided.
The Mayor pointed out what she considers the primary factor. "But I'll say the initial contribution was the arson itself. But for the arson, no one would have been there," the Mayor said. Building owner Ray Abou-Arab is awaiting trial for murder, for allegedly setting the fire.
The report reveals a delayed response to the fire. Station 3 was closed for renovations, the Craig Bridge was closed to traffic, and the four first due companies were on EMS calls or training.
The building configuration was also listed as a problem. Fencing made it difficult to survey all four sides of the building and to monitor the conditions of the fire grounds and incident commanders didn't see the fire was in what's called division one.
The report also reveals communications failures at the fire scene. There were vague instructions and firefighter Jamie Dickman's mayday call was not heard by command. A similar call by an officer was also not heard.
Chief Luis Santiago said the problems are being addressed, including the communications failures.
"We've been working more on clear, more direct communication that spells things out a little bit cleaner for everybody on the scene. And what we are teaching our crews is there really should be no secrets on the fire ground. If it's worth telling the incident commander, we need to announce that one the radio so everybody knows," said Chief Santiago.
There were other failures that were listed. The Safety Officer was assigned last at the scene, Engine 6 didn't have a permanent water supply when the second floor erupted in flames, and Engines 3 and 6 entered without a charged hose line.
Santiago said there has been increased training and staffing since the fatal fire. And a second report also released Friday, from an ad hoc committee formed by the mayor, details the recommendations the city intends to implement. They come from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report that was released in April.
Incident commanders at future fires will make an initial 360 degree size-up of the fire scene, all companies will be staffed with an officer on the fireground, and the fire department should use thermal imaging cameras while fighting a fire.
The committee said the city should establish a timetable and priority to implement these recommendations and that the process should include representatives from the Toledo Firefighters Local 92 and the Toledo Fire Chiefs Association. It also stated the Mayor and City Council should get regular progress reports until the recommendations are fully implemented.
The fire department dedicated its report to the fallen firefighters. Chief Santiago wrote in it, that the Dickman and Machcinski families hope the fire department learns from the fire to avoid a tragic outcome in the future.