Four DeKalb County, Georgia firefighters fired over response to fire. Elderly woman dead after crews didn't find burning house during initial response.

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From the AP:

Four firefighters were terminated Thursday and they are being investigated by police for their response to a house fire that killed an elderly woman.

The DeKalb County firefighters responded to a 911 call from the home about 1 a.m. Sunday and left after they didn’t see any signs of flames or smoke.

But according to an investigative report, they didn’t follow department procedure to approach the home, verify the address and make contact with the 911 caller. 

Ann Bartlett in a family photo.
Ann Bartlett in a family photo.

Most of the firefighters who responded to the call stayed in their vehicles, only getting out to help the trucks turn around in the cul-de-sac near the home, according to the report.

About six hours later, a neighbor called 911 to report the same house was fully engulfed in flames. Ann Bartlett, 74, was found dead inside from smoke inhalation.

“These officers didn’t follow policy, and that’s why they’re being terminated,” county public safety director William Z. Miller said Friday.

Police in Dunwoody, a northern Atlanta suburb, have launched a criminal investigation into the fire department’s response, police Chief Billy Grogan said.

The four firefighters are acting officer in charge William Greene, Capt. Tony L. Motes, Battalion Chief Lesley Clark and Battalion Chief Bennie J. Paige. A fifth firefighter, Capt. Sell Caldwell, has been put on leave with pay as an investigation into his actions continues, DeKalb County spokeswoman Shelia Edwards said.

Paige did not immediately return a call for comment Friday. There were no public phone listings for the rest of the firefighters and it was not known if they had retained attorneys.

Bartlett’s daughter, Ruth, said Friday she hopes “every firefighter learns from this.” She said her family wants an apology from the firefighters.

“We know those four men feel awful,” she said in a telephone interview. “First, we were very shocked. Then we were very sad, and as the facts started to unravel, we became mad. Now as we see they are resolving and taking actions they deem appropriate, we are starting to heal.”

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