Scathing report details failures leading to Philadelphia firefighter Joyce Craig's death

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Scathing report details failures leading to firefighter's death. Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News at 4:30 p.m. on April 18.

Bad equipment was something both Lt. Joyce Craig's fire union and even her family argued were partly to blame for her death.

A report from the fire department and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health released Monday not only reaffirms their argument, but details the chilling moments Craig drew her last breath.

Craig's first mayday for help was at 3:02 a.m.

30 seconds later came a third may day, "I am trapped on the first floor."

Three minutes later, "I can't breathe." Her last words.

The 11-year veteran was found in the dining room of a burning West Oak Lane home in December 2014. Never before seen photos were released along with the scathing report.

Findings reveal the hose supplying her with oxygen was burned through during the blaze. Forty-five minutes' worth of air disappeared in just ten minutes.

And along with outdated equipment, the feds cite other fatal factors like a backup team that took 21 minutes to arrive and the controversial brownouts to cut city costs.

"We deemed this to be an unsafe environment to work in, and it was reaffirmed on the tragic night in December 2014," Local 22 Firefighters and Paramedics Union President Andrew Thomas.

Thomas says the report only proves what they had been arguing all along.

"Have those changes been dealt with? Yes, there are no more brown outs in the department, and there are no firefighter rotations. Do we need the engine and ladder companies back? Absolutely," Thomas said.

The report recommends the department should upgrade their breathing apparatus, and be trained in mayday techniques, which are already being addressed.

The report also highlights the outdated fire academy.

"You have to have a facility for classroom and on hand experience training. We don't have one. Our fire tower itself is unsafe, it can't be used operationally to burn anything," Thomas said.

Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said on Tuesday there is nothing in the report he disagrees with. He went on to say that while many changes have been made, implementing all of the changes will take years.

"There's a lot to do here, there are a lot of recommendations. We embrace those recommendations," Thiel said. "We're going to be doing a lot of work."

Mayor Jim Kenney also spoke about the report, addressing some of the policies he did away with, including brownouts and forced transfers.

But he agrees that more work needs to be done.

"We had equipment as old as 1992-1993. That is absolutely unconscionable and we will be doing our best to catch up, and we will catch up because this is the best fire department in the country," Kenney said.

Funds for some of those changes are expected to be requested at a budget meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

A lawsuit was filed against manufacturers of the equipment last year. Lawyers representing Craig's family says Monday's report only furthers their case.


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Report cites reasons for Philadelphia firefighter's death. Christie Ileto reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on April 17.


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