Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Outdated and defective equipment, slow backup response to blame for firefighter Lt. Joyce Craig's death

Scathing report details failures leading to Philadelphia firefighter Joyce Craig's death

By Christie Ileto
Tuesday, April 18, 2017 05:06AM
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Bad equipment was something both Lt. Joyce Craig's fire union and even her family argued were partly to blame for her death.

A report from the fire department and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health released Monday not only reaffirms their argument, but details the chilling moments Craig drew her last breath.

Craig's first mayday for help was at 3:02 a.m.

30 seconds later came a third may day, "I am trapped on the first floor."

Three minutes later, "I can't breathe." Her last words.

The 11-year veteran was found in the dining room of a burning West Oak Lane home in December 2014. Never before seen photos were released along with the scathing report.

The fire department and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health released reports Monday about the December 2014 death of Lt. Joyce Craig.

Findings reveal the hose supplying her with oxygen was burned through during the blaze. Forty-five minutes' worth of air disappeared in just ten minutes.

And along with outdated equipment, the feds cite other fatal factors like a backup team that took 21 minutes to arrive and the controversial brownouts to cut city costs.

"We deemed this to be an unsafe environment to work in, and it was reaffirmed on the tragic night in December 2014," Local 22 Firefighters and Paramedics Union President Andrew Thomas.

Thomas says the report only proves what they had been arguing all along.

"Have those changes been dealt with? Yesm there are no more brown outs in the department, and there are no firefighter rotations. Do we need the engine and ladder companies back? Absolutely," Thomas said.

The report recommends the department should upgrade their breathing apparatus, and be trained in mayday techniques, which are already being addressed.

The report also highlights the outdated fire academy.

"You have to have a facility for classroom and on hand experience training. We don't have one. Our fire tower itself is unsafe, it can't be used operationally to burn anything," Thomas said.

More on the firefighter training and details of the report will be addressed at a press conference Tuesday morning.

A lawsuit was filed against manufacturers of the equipment last year. Lawyers representing Craig's family says Monday's report only furthers their case.