First Arriving Network
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UPDATED – Residents Riot Outside Firehouse, Threaten Firefighters After SW Multiple Fatal Fire

Residents in South Philadelphia residents feel firefighters took to much time to respond to multiple alarm fire that killed four kids early Saturday morning.

The Instagram video from 6ABC reporter Kenneth Moton shows angry residents yelling and protesting in front of Pipeline-40 and Ladder-4’s firehouse. Police have set up a line to prevent the people from getting into the firehouse. A city wide assist was requested by police bringing cops from all over the city to the scene.

Additional coverage by

Threats have been made to firefighters in the wake a blaze that claimed the lives of four young children Southwest Philadelphia.

The threats come amid claims that somehow the Fire Department did not respond fast enough. However, despite some lag time because the initial report had been for a rubbish fire, the first unit was on the scene within three minutes.

Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer says those claims are untrue and unfair.

“Ladder was first there and Engine was a minute behind,” Commissioner Sawyer said.

Below are two separate audio files of the fire. The first one (Youtube) has been edited and is not real time. However, it does contain the initial dispatch of Engine-68 for a trash fire. The second audio file (Soundcloud) has not been edited for time and is more real time. It does not contain the initial trash fire dispatch.

In an article by The Inquirer

Southwest Philadelphia was initially identified as a “rubbish fire” – a classification that affected how quickly help arrived, according to fire department records and officials.

Fire dispatch records obtained by The Inquirer show the department spent crucial minutes deploying resources as if responders were headed to a trash fire – and not a fast-moving blaze that had begun to consume several houses, including the one in which seven children were trapped.

As a result, firefighters assigned to a firehouse only 225 yards from the deadly blaze, at 6518 Gesner Street, were not dispatched for about three minutes after the 911 call was received early Saturday, according to the fire department’s communications dispatch sheet.

Records show the first call came in to 911 just before 2:45 a.m. A neighbor, Jeff Boone, said in an interview that he called 911 after seeing that a couch was on fire on the porch.

Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer said he did not know why the fire had originally been deemed less serious than it was.

“For whatever reason the information they received made them believe it was a rubbish fire,” he said. “As more calls came in, they upgraded it.”

He said wildly incorrect rumors had spread along the block and through the neighborhood that 30 minutes passed before fire engines with water were on scene.

Records show it took 43 seconds from the first call, to be transferred to a dispatcher. The dispatcher then sent Engine-68 from several miles away. At 02:48 the call was upgraded to a full box assignment. Ladder-4 arrived at 02:50 according to fire department records. However, if you listen the audio file you can hear Ladder-4 call dispatchers twice during the 56 second dispatch. The first 25 seconds the second time at 50 seconds after the alert tone. The dispatcher even emphasizes the word “Box” when Ladder-4 calls. Ladder-4 arrived on scene a half of a minute after the initial alert tone. It is likely the extremely busy dispatcher did not enter Ladder-4 arrival time into the computer until after he was done dispatching the call.

Once firefighters were alerted to the call the response was very quick.

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