Sixteen months after the tragic death of a firefighter in the Ingram Square fire on the northwest side, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood is talking about change.
A federal review of the incident is about to be released and Hood is reviewing changes that have been made and looking ahead to the life-saving work that still needs to be done.
The mayday calls on May 18 last year were heartbreaking.
In the confusion of a literal fire storm, firefighter Scott Deem died and Brad Phipps was critically burned when an arson fire consumed the Ingram Square shopping center.
Chief Hood said that even though the state fire marshal published an extensive report on the fire, he believes it was important to participate in every review possible.
"We wanted to learn every possible thing we could learn from this," Hood said.
The federal study, by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or NIOSH, is expected to be released shortly.
"This is a learning document that we want everyone to see, the outcome of this fire, the things we’ve learned from it,” Chief Hood said. “And we’re happy it’s coming out."
The report reviews the contributing factors that led to the tragedy.
The chief said that among the listed factors are:
- Arson fire
- No sprinkler system in commercial structure
- High winds
- Zero visibility and a cluttered floor space
- Freelancing fire tactics with personnel searching for fire beyond the protection of a fire hose stream
- Crew integrity was not maintained
- Uncoordinated ventilation
The report makes 19 recommendations, the most important of which just may be more training, much of it in a new center named for Scott Deem.
“We can add heat, smoke, video, put our firefighters in challenging situations to where they’re lost, entrapped, running low on air,” Chief Hood described.
The chief also said that the report was hard to read and accept, but life-saving.
"We honor Scott's death with what we are doing," he added. "Eighty percent of everything we have identified as action items for our department, we have completed them."
As soon as the report is released, it will be posted on KENS5.com.
This weekend, Scott Deem's family will travel to Colorado Springs to see his name added to the national memorial for fallen firefighters.
KENS 5 will be there with full coverage on air and online starting Friday, as a hometown hero is honored for making the ultimate sacrifice.