Federal report blames errors, faulty gear, more for Philly firefighter's 2014 death

SMBB
April 17, 2017

The NIOSH report confirms that a hose on Craig's SCBA, which was at least seven years old, burned, and her PASS device "may have ceased to function intermittently from extreme heat exposure."

Attorneys from the Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky firm, which represents Craig's family, issued this statement in response to NIOSH's findings: "This report appears to advance our arguments regarding the liability of the equipment manufacturer and affiliated defendants, but it is far from the final word on what happened, why and how those responsible should be held accountable. Those questions will ultimately be answered at trial by a jury."

The NIOSH report also assigned some blame to two controversial policies that resulted in firefighters forced to work with colleagues they didn't know in neighborhoods unfamiliar to them. The first - a "brownout" policy adopted in 2010 and discontinued in 2015 - was intended to save money by temporarily removing an engine or ladder company from service and redistributing its staff. The second, a "firefighter rotation" policy instituted in 2013 and dumped in 2016, imposed involuntary transfers of senior firefighters to other stations. Its stated goal was to ensure that all firefighters have equal opportunity to work various assignments and acquire diverse skills.

But federal investigators suggested both policies backfired.

"An important aspect of being a firefighter is being able to work as a member of a team, and the skill of an officer is to develop that team," they wrote in their report. "The subtext to every activity that firefighters do is that they are doing it in coordination with others."