Columbia County, GA -- Columbia County Fire and Rescue admitted under oath to making mistakes that led to the death of a 91 year old woman during a fire.
Marshal Square Retirement Community had a fire on June 2, 2015. The fire turned deadly when 91 year old Dot Carpenter was not evacuated from her room, which was next to the point of origin.
One of the biggest issues was that the fire sprinklers were turned off mid-fire. The question is, why were they turned off? The live-in manager, Chris Bryde, said that he was told to turn off the fire sprinklers by Fire Rescue Chief Danny Kuhlmann. However, Kuhlmann said that was completely untrue. Audio recording of the radios firefighters were wearing tell a different story. Recording was taken of someone saying, "We need to shut down the sprinkler systems soon as we can." When asked under oath who the voice belonged to, Chief Paschal said, "That's Chief Kuhlmann."
"We do know for certain the sprinklers were turned off at about 3:44am, and we know for certain that was absolutely uncalled for and a total and complete violation of policy and procedure to do that in an active fire," Revell said.
Another major issue was that the facility had a shelter in place fire plan, requiring all tenants to stay in their unit. When firefighters arrived, all tenants were still in their unit, requiring firefighters to evacuate a building full of people. Firefighters chose not to start with the rooms closest to the fire, leaving Dot Carpenter vulnerable. At 4:04am, the roof collapsed and it wasn't until that time that firefighters go to the rooms closest to the fire. "Literally, firefighters were within paces of Dot Carpenter's apartment, literally two doors away for 20-25 minutes and they simply failed to clear her apartment," said Revell.
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