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Minquad Fire Company Captain Dave Smiley Jr. who was critically burned March 14th sent STATter911.com his response about the coverage and comments surrounding the Delaware State Fire School report on the Mill Creek fire. The article from Delaware Online summarizing the report can be found here. You can read the entire report here. Captain Smiley’s response is below.
I have spent the better part of the past 24 hours browsing through Facebook and reading what everyone has said about myself, my crew, my company, etc.
With that being said, there is one thing that bothers me more than others, and one thing I am going to comment on and clarify. For everyone who has read the recently posted article, and has not read the 87-page report, seen the helmet cam footage, or listened to the audio, please just wait before you make assumptions.
Yesterday’s article was written in a somewhat misleading sense in some aspects, and one of the biggest things I have an issue with is the “disregard for orders” statement. I led my crew to perform the role of the second due special service company on March 14th. Upon arriving at the front door command requested we ladder the Charlie and Delta sides. I made the decision to split my crew into a search group of four, and an exterior group of three. At that time my exterior team dumped every ladder bed of onscene apparatus, with some help from others.
Upon forcing and entering the front door, my mind set was strictly on searching the bedrooms, as an Ambulance had arrived onscene first to find fire showing, with no one outside, and locked doors (reporting “unknown occupancy”). I made my way to the second floor right around the time that the Engine Company ran out of water, and decided to search what I thought was a smoldering bedroom. While completing my search, Command advised his Engine crew that they were out of water and stated “21-6 back out for a second, 21-6 back out for a second”, leaving myself and my crew on the second floor of the house with no hose crew immediately ready. At this point I was finishing up my search and in my mind I decided that we were going to back down to the landing to wait for an Engine Company, with water in their hose line, but I never made it that far.
Approximately 5 seconds after Command ordered his Engine Company to “back out for a second” I fell through the floor. The crew of Rescue Company 23 and Ladder Company 16 attempted to pull me out of the floor, while also attempting to extinguish my burning body with the water cans we brought with us.
At no point did myself nor the members of my crew disregard any evacuation order, I was just simply attempting to complete my assigned role to the best of my ability. After the mayday had been called, and when I was walking to the stretcher is when Command ordered an orderly evacuation that went unfollowed, followed by multiple other evacuation orders.
My crew, and Ladder 16’s crew, did not play a part in any type of insubordination, and I wanted to make this clear for everybody. These guys risked their lives for me that day, and to see them getting blasted due to a poorly written article, with a misleading title, is devastating to me. They are my actual heroes. Nobody from my crew was freelancing, nobody did not leave when they were told to, the special services were just simply trying to do their jobs.