After-Action Report Looks Back at Fatal Fire in Albemarle
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va (WVIR) -
The initial dispatch of firefighters to a deadly Albemarle County blaze back in January that killed a mother and two children is being released for the first time. The recording and response are part of an internal review by the county's fire rescue department, in an effort to prevent that kind of tragedy from happening again.
The after-action review report details the first 30 minutes of the fire at Carriage Trail Place in Keswick. It describes a chaotic scene and makes three recommendations to improve the fire department's response in the future.
A dispatcher's tone at 1:39 a.m. on January 18 alerted firefighters to respond.
“The report itself focuses on the first 30 minutes of the operation,” said Chief Dan Eggleston with Albemarle County Fire Rescue.
The department decided to analyze its actions after the fire trapped and killed three family members in an upstairs apartment. The report finds a lack of coordination between the first fire units on scene and a lack of command resources.
It recommends creating an "incident command team" made up of chief officers.
“It's a lot to do in the first 20 minutes of a scene, so often that incident commander can be overloaded in certain situations. So, this will provide them support and they can focus on the tactics of the scene itself,” Eggleston said.
The report also recommends establishing standard operations for supplying water to areas where there are no hydrants. An engine was not prepared to supply water at the Carriage Trail Place fire, which interrupted the water supply.
“We've got to be able to deliver and dump that water and then return and gather more water to make that the most efficient process possible,” Eggleston said.
The county fire chief promises the department is making progress to prevent another tragedy like this one.
“We always learn from incidents, and we're constantly reviewing our protocols and processes to ensure we send the fastest and most appropriate unit to the scene,” Eggleston said.
The report's third recommendation is to upgrade the more-than-15-year-old computer system used to dispatch crews, and that is already in the works.
It's important to note that the report finds - even with all the efforts by firefighters - the fire was too far along for anyone to survive.
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