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Radio traffic (above) from the November 23, 2018 house fire in Polk County, Florida that took the life of 73-year-old Loretta Pickard. Ms. Pickard was still on the line with 911 when Polk County Fire Rescue’s Engine 6 arrived approximately 16 minutes after that call began.
The captain from Engine 6 took initial command, reporting the house was 50-percent involved and ordering defensive operations. The dispatch center made it clear multiple times someone was trapped in the house, but didn’t initially tell the firefighters they were on the phone with that person. The radio traffic indicates the captain decided to wait for the arrival of more firefighters to have staffing on the scene to meet two-in, two-out. As you will read below, Polk County’s deputy county manager agrees that in this case having two-in, two-out “goes out the window.” The only discipline for the captain was over his decision to send a Snapchat video from the scene.
The fire has sparked multiple stories by WFLA-TV reporter Melissa Marino. Reporter Marino has a lot of questions for Polk County officials. My question is simple: When will Polk County order an outside investigation?
Family members claim Loretta was within feet of the door. As the house burned down around her, no one went in to try to save her.
Polk Fire Rescue’s policy is to have two firefighters on the outside before two firefighters go in. Deputy County Manager Joe Halman says in a case like this, that policy goes out the window.
“According to policy, if somebody’s life is in danger, one person can go in and save them,” Halman told 8 On Your Side.
Yet, according to the radio transmission, Captain Williams sent no one in. Instead, he waited.