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Resource ID: #24745
Subject: Fire Departments
Source: Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.)
Date: 2010-12-15



This series looked at why fire-and-rescue workers were unable to save a woman trapped inside her home even though she was on the phone with a dispatcher giving directions to her upstairs bedroom. The reporting found that volunteers who responded that night did not use thermal imaging equipment that could have helped them find the victim, Sandy Hill; that they did not place a ladder at either of the windows in her bedroom; that they were slow to ventilate the house and remove the smoke that killed her; and that they did not question people who had escaped the house about her location. Additional reporting exposed systemic weaknesses in Spotsylvania's fire-and-rescue services, which rely on self-governing volunteer departments and a smaller number of career personnel hired and directed by the county. These weaknesses include a poorly structured chain of command, lack of communication, insufficient training for man volunteers, and a failure to enforce existing regulations due in large part to friction between the career and volunteer units.

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