Feds: Philly firefighter’s death resulted partly from bad equipment, late backup

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Firefighter Joyce Craig made five Mayday distress transmissions as she became trapped in the dining room of a burning West Oak Lane home on Dec. 9, 2014.


“Engine 73 can’t breathe, I can’t breathe…,” Craig, 37, said in her final transmission.

Nine minutes later, Craig – the first female Philadelphia firefighter to die in the line of duty – was located by her comrades with her left hand still near the nozzle of her fire hose, according to a report released Monday by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. She was pronounced dead a short time later at a hospital.


The NIOSH report cites several factors that played a role in Craig’s death, including broken and outdated breathing equipment, becoming separated from her crew members, firefighting tactics that weren’t best practice, unrestricted air flow in the house, and a backup team that took 21 minutes to arrive.

The report also criticizes the controversial “brownouts” and firefighter rotation policies in effect at the time of Craig’s death that since have been discontinued.

Among the report’s 10 recommendations: firefighters should be trained in the best firefighting tactics, crews should stick together when fighting fires, all firefighters should be trained in Mayday techniques, and the department should consider upgrading its breathing apparatus.





In a statement Monday, Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office had many of the same conclusions about training, communication, and equipment. He said breathing equipment already has been updated and more firefighter positions have been added this year, with more expected in 2018.

“Joyce Craig’s death was devastating to her family and to the Department,” Thiel wrote. “We hope the lessons learned from these reports will prevent such tragedies in the future.”

Thiel is scheduled to discuss the report at a news conference Tuesday morning.

























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Philadelphia News & Search

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