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Fire Dept. Admits Error in DeKalb County Fatal Fire

WSBTV reports that the DeKalb Fire Department has admitted that it made a mistake by not investigating a fire at a residence where the resident called 911 to report a fire. WSBTV called the admission “stunning.”

I’m certainly stunned! The fire department says that a fire truck drove to Ann Bartlett’s Dunwoody home after she called 911 and reported a fire – but, because the firefighters did not see any smoke, they never got out of the truck to investigate. It seems like they would have at least knocked on the door and talked to the resident.

According to WSBTV, Ann Bartlett’s family said that the DeKalb County Fire Department “told them that firefighters failed to follow proper procedures.”

The Bartlett family wants an apology from the fire department.

“She paid her taxes in DeKalb County for 41 years,” said Ann Bartlett’s daughter Ruth Bartlett. “Yet when she needed DeKalb County, they didn’t find her.”

Investigators believe that the fire started because of Bartlett’s oxygen device and that she tried to escape through her garage. Unfortunately, the fire disabled the electric garage door opener.

I cannot comment on the legal aspects of this case because I do not know all of the details, but it seems like Ann Bartlett should not have died in the fire at her home on Houghton Court last weekend.

Atlanta attorney Pitts Carr is representing the Bartlett family, and he said that the DeKalb County public safety director has acknowledged that the firefighters didn’t even get out of the truck to investigate.

Bartlett’s body was not found until five or six hours later, after neighbors called 911 to report that the house was engulfed in flames.

CBS Atlanta obtained a copy of the fire department’s incident investigation report. The report reads: “FAO Greene, stated when he arrived on Houghton Court North, they drove slowly around the cul-de-sac, looking for addresses and for signs of smoke or fire. Greene reported no crewmember from Engine 18 exited the engine onto Houghton Court North. Greene reported no crewmember from Engine 18 exited the engine onto Houghton Court North. Greene reported, Engine 18, stayed on the street for just a few minutes and reported, via radio, to Battalion 1 he could find no fire and began looking for a dwelling fire on other streets . . . Captain Motes stated he too did not see the address or any signs of smoke or fire. He reported he did look up at the house, 1687 Houghton Court North, but the house was dark. Captain Motes reported, he and his firefighter exited Truck 18 only to spot the truck as it backed up to turn around to leave the cul-de-sac. No personnel from Truck 18 walked up the driveway of 1687 Houghton Court North.”

Even though the address of the house was not clearly visible from the street, the house appeared to be dark, and the firefighters saw no signs of a fire, they should have investigated more carefully. Let’s hope that the department improves their practices following this incident.