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Firefighter Joyce Craig made five “Mayday” distress transmissions as she became trapped in the dining room of a burning West Oak Lane home on Dec. 9, 2014.
“Engine 73 can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” Craig, 37, said in her final transmission.
Nine minutes later, Craig – the first female Philadelphia firefighter to die in the line of duty – was found by her comrades with her left hand still near the nozzle of her fire hose, according to a report released Monday by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. She was pronounced dead a short time later at a hospital.
The NIOSH report cites several factors in Craig’s death, including broken and outdated breathing equipment, becoming separated from her crew members, unrestricted air flow in the house, and a backup team that took 21 minutes to arrive.
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.
And along with outdated equipment, the feds cite other fatal factors like a backup team that took 21 minutes to arrive and the controversial brownouts to cut city costs.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.