Report on firefighter death recommends better communication

CINCINNATI (AP) — A fire department report on a veteran firefighter’s death has recommended improvements that would cost about $2.3 million in areas including communication and training.

Officials on Thursday released their final report on the March 26, 2015, blaze that led to three-decade veteran firefighter Daryl Gordon’s death when he plunged into a fifth-floor elevator shaft.

Investigators have said that a firefighter used a black marker to write “Do Not Enter Open Shaft” on the elevator door two minutes before Gordon went through it while searching for residents to rescue in the dark, smoky building, but they have said no radio transmission communicating the warning was made.

“The real problem that resulted in the death of Daryl is the failure of the elevator door,” District Chief Gregory Potter said. “The door should not have opened when the elevator was not on that floor.”

The report cited the faulty elevator door as the primary cause for Gordon’s death but also lists communication failures as contributing factors. In particular, the report referred to human error, radio discipline and breakdowns in knowledge of radio equipment. In response, the report recommended improving radio communication skills and modifying the radio channel template.

“We identified 44 different things that we want to improve on,” Potter said. “The majority of them deal with training.”

Fire Chief Richard Braun said brownouts were also a major factor that led to the Cincinnati Fire Department’s training deficiencies.


This story has been corrected to show the fire was March 26, 2015, not March 26, 2016.

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