Firefighters learn from Deem tragedy, tour damaged facility

Fire departments across South Texas are learning from the tragedy that killed San Antonio firefighter Scott Deem.

BOERNE - Fire departments across South Texas are learning from the tragedy that killed San Antonio firefighter Scott Deem.

The San Antonio Fire Department welcomed firefighters to do a walk-through of the strip mall at Ingram Park Square. SAFD has already done a walk-through with its own firefighters.

Last week, the Boerne Fire Department sent several firefighters to take a tour of the damaged stores. Firefighter paramedic Chris Copeland said that his heart aches for Deem's family. He was at SAFD for two years before he come to the Boerne Fire Department.

"It takes a lot for a department to open up their doors like that, especially after having a line of duty death and say, ‘Hey, we want you all to learn from this as much as we're trying to learn,’" Copeland said. "I can't imagine what those guys were going through inside that fire or the guys on the scene that night, something I hope I never have to experience in my career."

On May 18, a massive fire ripped through the strip mall at Ingram Park Square. Two firefighters were injured in the fire and Deem lost his life. SAFD Fire Chief Charles Hood said that they made multiple attempts to try to find Deem, but the fire conditions were too dangerous and he had to pull out all of the other firefighters.

"While we may not know him personally, all of the firefighters, it's a brotherhood, sisterhood, and I can't imagine what they're going through, still. It's something that weighs on you, 'cause we all go out there and try to do a good job and that's all he was trying to do. Trying to help somebody," said Toby Vicknair, a Boerne firefighter paramedic.

Firefighters can't talk about what they saw because the fire is still under investigation. But they said they're learning what they can do to avoid a similar situation. They are examining the structure and their own strip malls in Boerne as a result.

"We'll get all of the reports, I'm sure. Go through them, read them, and try to see what went wrong, possibly if anything did," Vicknair noted.

"We always try to learn from every firefighter's death and try to learn and make ourselves better that way. We learn from their sacrifice," Copeland said.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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