WHAT WENT WRONG? Polk County officials are discussing last year's fire that left 76-year-old Loretta Pickard dead. The fire has been the subject of a months-long 8 On Your Side investigation by WFLA Melissa Marino. Yesterday, a post-analysis report completed by an outside agency was released and appeared to back up many of our findings. wfla.com/1985691527
Posted by WFLA News Channel 8 on Tuesday, May 7, 2019
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A day after the release of a report finding that firefighters weren’t prepared to rescue an elderly, disabled woman talking to 911 from inside her burning home, Polk County Fire Rescue (FL) Chief Tony Stravino has resigned.
After WFLA-TV reporter Melissa Marino broke the story of concerns about how the fire department handled the November fire that killed 76-year-old Lorretta Pickard, Chief Stravino struggled in his public response to the controversy.
County fire chief Tony Stravino retired this morning. His departure comes a day after critical report into Nov. 23 fire was released. County Manager Jim Freeman declined to comment on whether he would have been fired.
— John Chambliss (@chamblissjac) May 7, 2019
At a press conference the week after Marino’s first report, Stravino showed a poor grasp of the facts of the November fire, even though an internal report by a battalion chief was submitted to the fire chief in December. Chief Stravino defended the actions of the first fire officer on the scene, Capt. James Williams, saying he wasn’t sure what Williams could have done differently. Stravino said this despite the internal report expressing concerns over the captain’s training and his understanding of the two-in, two-out policy. Both reports indicated Williams and his engine company did not arrive at the burning home prepared to initiate a rescue.
Deputy County Manager Joe Halman, who during the February press conference characterized a reporter’s questions about Capt. Williams as racially motivated, remains on the job.