Monday, January 25, 2010

Four DeKalb Fire Officers Placed On Leave; Dunwoody Fire Response Under Review

We don't know much about the fire department and their procedures, but we are guessing someone is getting ready to get a royal screwing.

The police department shares the identical computer aided dispatch system (CAD) as the fire department. It is horrendous to say the least. For years it has been one big pile of junk. Now it appears it could have led to a tragic death.

We know for a fact that communication supervisors are contacted when calls are dispatched to wrong precincts. When the communications supervisors are asked for the procedure for making corrections, the answer is there is no plan of action, it is up to the beat sergeants to know what call should be assigned to what precinct.

The county will never take responsibility. They will finger point and tarnish, if not ruin careers of some fine dedicated fireman.

This is all laying at the feet of Public Safety Director W.Z. Miller. Is he capable of handling such controversy?

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30 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Dekalb Co Fire Dept has always been nothing but superbly responsive, professional, and compassionate in responding to incidents in my neighborhood in Dunwoody. I am forever grateful to them for how they have responded to some very emotionally painful situations. As a result, I would defend them to the END, as I am SURE their actions in this case were beyond reproach. What happened on the FRONT end, is probably another matter. I choose to believe that something broke down before they were involved, because the men and women I have dealt with would never have ignored a call from someone in need. God bless you guys - I'll be watching what happens...

Anonymous said...

While out of town last year we had a fire in our home in Dunwoody. While I cannot confirm, my neighbors were very concerned that it took 45 minutes from the first call to respond. The fire started outside and moved inside during this time. There were several issues involved in the slow response time, but as I understand Dekalb County claims that the first calls came from a cell phone and were routed to the wrong area. Unfortunately, the first calls were placed by a neighbor from his land line while giving the exact address from the neighborhood address book. While the firefighters who responded did a wonderful job of saving the majority of my home, something is not right in the call center.

Anonymous said...

know your facts please...the correct address was given...yes the cad system is a piece of crap ..but the address was given for them to check...

Anonymous said...

If they had the correct address five hours earlier, why did it take the fire fire hours to engulf the whole house? I've seen house fires and they move rather quickly!

Anonymous said...

First of all... YES the CAD is a piece of crap, no question about it. However, I must first say that Dekalb Fire/Rescue has very strict guidlines when it comes to dispatching, clearing on the call, showing themselves enroute and OS. There is no such thing as taking one's sweet time arriving to a call, there is no such thing as clearing on a call, stopping off by Quicktrip to use it..., grabbing a soda-pop, getting back in your unit, then showing yourself ENR, then 20 mins later you're OS (like Police units do.. don't get mad , I know ALL pd units dont do it, buut I know a large number does) No, fire/ems DO NOT operate in this fashion-paperwork, paperwork, paperwork if a fire/ems unit does not clear, show themselves ENR, then OS in the required time frame. NOW, I said all this in response to the above comment about a 45 minute response time--> NEGATIVE, you clearly do not have all of the facts, probably no facts at all, just speculation. Furthermore, cell phone calls are not "routed" anywhere..they come into the main 911 line just like a land-line. The only difference is (which is a HUGE difference) is that when a person calls from a CELL PHONE they *MUST* PROVIDE AN EXACT ADDRESS OR 2 CROSS STREETS. Otherwise, units have NO IDEA where they are going. A LAND-LINE phone, of course, provides the exact address on the 911 computer screen, therefore, if a call comes in from a citizen at a home or business land-line needing help and hangs up, guess what?? Units are responding why? Because there is a valid address showing. Now, if a citizen calls for help from the ol' handy-dandy cell and the idiot has no idea where they are (which I've been told happens more often than not) guess what??? units can't respond..why? because UNITS DONT HAVE A VALID LOCATION.

Now if the call about the fire from last year originally came from a cell-and if Dekalb says it came from a cell--it did, they cannot lie about that because it's to easy to confirm-- I truly wonder what location the cell caller gave. The 45 minute response time would have been very easy to confirm and/or investigate if needed, but I suppose taking the neighbors word for it worked better at the time. Just fyi..anytime there is a discrepancy with any units-fire,ems or pd...communications has recordings of the calls themselves and fire/ems & pd radio traffic..Plus detailed CAD functions itemized by user name, date and time. SO, to the units that responded to the burning home in which the elderly woman lost her life--which had nothing to do with the CAD this time-- good luck to you all, and keep your heads up. In defense of the call center, they work extremely hard, and believe it or not, they too have a very strict protocol...and to say "something is not right in the call center" is just another sign of the ignorance that plagues this county.

LoFlyer said...

For as much money that we spent on CADS, it never has worked well and needs a lot more debugging. Unfortunately the documentation is crap which makes debugging time consuming and expensive. CADS is a difficult program because it calls in so many different applications to make it all work. The AJC reports that DKPD dispatched to the correct address, but found no sign of fire at the scene. I find it hard to fault the crew that dispatched on the call. Maybe some good will come out of all this if the commissioners will allocate the funding to make CADS work well. I doubt this will happen because it would probably cost at least 50 percent of the system cost to debug it. Hopefully this will be a free vacation for those suspended....

Anonymous said...

its not the call center are you for real. every inprogress call that comes into the call center should be turned to a just occured because by the time it gets where its going its been at least 5 mins. of the ignorance you say. nobody is blaming the personal taking the calls but the center its self has terrible protocol. I stopped counting the times I almost had to walk an operator through a 911 call to get all the info about including victim location, suspect description direction of travel mode of travel injuries or no injuries. and as this all happens the Operator is getting an mad at me because i'm asking 5000 questions that should have been ask to begin with again I do not blame the people but when the only response I get when I am hailing ass to a shooting trying to get the suspect info is standbye while I check with the call taker is unexceptable and somebody up there should realize hey there are certain things the police fire and EMS need BEFORE they go onscene

Anonymous said...

On a different note...are Dunwoody emergency responders trained to walk from their firetrucks to a home that has called for help? Twice, I have witnessed the arrival of a Dunwoody firetruck in which the emergency personnel do not move quickly to get in the house. In one incident, the woman of the house was waiting anxiously at the end of the driveway and met the truck as it pulled up in front of her house. It was obviously a medical emergency, yet the responders moved at a slow walk. Let me be clear---I am not criticizing our emergency personnel in Dunwoody. I simply want to know if it's standard procedure to move rather slowly in an emergency. Could it be to keep everyone calm?

Anonymous said...

Unlike what you see on TV, neither we nor the police go running into any scene, no matter what the emergency. This is one of the first things we are taught, yes nationwide, is to ensure personal and scene safety and you cannot do that running into a scene and tripping and pushing over each other, no matter if it is a fire, medical emergency or a crime scene. This is the same in Dunwoody, Georgia, and nationwide. Also unlike ER, or any other hospital drama, the doctors never meet us on the ramp as we pull in to the hospital. We do not move slowly, we get to the patient and provide quality care in a safe and timely manner. Despite what the media reports state, wait for the investigation to be complete before coming to a premature conclusion of automatic guilt. These are good men, all veterans of the department who have spent the majority of their lives taking an oath to protect the citizens and visitors of Dekalb. They deserve at least the benefit of the doubt and a fair investigation, not a rush to judgement.

Anonymous said...

THERE ARE SOME VALID POINTS TO EVERY STATEMENT MADE ON THIS BLOG;HOWEVER SOME ARE JUST DOWNRIGHT CRAZY! FIRST OF ALL EVERYONE CAN COME VISIT THE 911 CENTER W/ PROPER CLEARANCE,COME SIT AND LISTEN.THE CAD SYSTEM IS ANOTHER CONVO (ENOUGH SAID). OPERATORS HAVE 30 SECS TO GET THE ADDRESS,CALLBACK NUMBER (IN CASE THE LINE IS DISC)AND THE PROBLEM OR ELSE THEY ARE "WALKING THE GREEN MILE"(GOING IN THE OFFICE FOR A WRITE-UP OR CONSULTATION)CAN SOMEONE CONDUCT CLASS OR INFOMERCIAL ON HOW TO ACT WHEN CALLING 911,WHAT INFORMATION DOES THE OPERATOR NEED IN ORDER TO GET HELP TO YOU IN A TIMELY MANNER.THAT IS TRULY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIFE OR DEATH. YOU WOULD BE AMAZED(DISGUSTED)AT HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE NO EARTHLY IDEA WHERE THEY LIVE,WHAT STREET/INTERSTATE,DIRECTION THEY ARE TRAVELING,OPERATORS HAVE TO TELL THEM WHERE THEY ARE AT 9 TIMES OUT OF 10 SERIOUSLY,THEY CALL SCREAMING AND CURSING LIKE IT'S THE OPERATOR'S FAULT.IF THE UNIT IS NOT THERE SOON AS THEY HANG UP THE PHONE.SOMEBODY DROPPED THE BALL ON THAT FIRE CALL,BUT IT IS NOT THE 911 DISPATCHERS!!!!

Anonymous said...

CONT:TO ANON#1 ARE YOU IMPLYING ON THE FRONT END AS IN OPERATORS? I BEG YOU TO COME SIT AND LISTEN ON BOTH ENDS,CALLTAKING,POLICE AND FIRE DISPATCHING,THEN YOU'LL SEE HOW IT'S DONE AND WHAT OPERATORS HAVE TO GO THRU DAY IN AND DAY OUT,YOU WILL HAVE A NEW FOUND "RESPECT" FOR 911 OPERATORS!
ANON#7-CLEARLY IT'S BEEN A MINUTE SINCE YOU PAID A VISIT,COME JOIN US!CAD CAD CAD OPERATORS HAVE 5-6 DIFFERENT SCREENS,LINE COMMANDS JUST TO PULL UP A CALL.THE CAD IS SLOW AND WHEN UNITS ASK FOR INFORMATION THAT WAS GIVEN ON INITIAL DISPATCH SOMEONE'S NOT LISTENING!!YES WE HAVE OUR FAULTS,ATTITUDES ETC ETC ETC BUT LOOK AT WHAT WE ARE WORKING WITH,LAST WEEK COULD YALL UNDERSTAND US,WE COULDNT UNDERSTAND SOME OF YALL,IT SOUNDED MUFFLED/MUMBLED..10-9 YEAH CUZ WE COULDNT HEAR CLEARLY,I'VE DONE PLENTY OF RIDE A-LONGS AND I RESPECT YOU ALL TREMENDOUSLY AND OUR PROTOCOLS ARE FINE,YOU NEVER HEAR ABOUT DKPD OPS ON THE NEWS,THAT IS BCUZ AS SOON AS WE SCREW UP,WE GET TIME IN THE STREET.INVITATION IS STILL EXTENDED LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING SOME OF YOU!!!I HAVE AN EXTRA HEADSET

Anonymous said...

To Anon #7: For your information, Dunwoody does not have its own fire department. So, you must be referring to DeKalb. Because Dunwoody contracts DeKalb for fire and rescue services. They were the responders you saw.

Anonymous said...

to the last person that commented..city of dunwoody only has police officers...dekalb fire rescue services the dunwoody area..just fyi..

Anonymous said...

Firefighters and EMT's do not run because tripping could slow them down significantly or take them completely out of action. Better to get there safe than not at all.

If the first call reportedly came in at 1:00 am, why was the second call five hours later? And why did it take so long for the house to go up? I would think after the first call, the house would be totally involved within 30 to 60 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Once again to the call takers I have nothing but respect wfor you but when you get an attitude with an officer who is going into a shooting stabbing rape robbery or some other violent crime because they keep demanding vital info there is something wrong. and if that is because your supervisors are telling you to get the bear minimum then somebody needs to start investigating now and not when this practice and CAD system gets a first responder killed because they walk up on a suspect think he is the victim. and don't say it won't happen theres been many times where the victim and perp have been mixed up somewhere from the call to the first responders. Mr Miller it sounds like you might want to look into why we have a system that IS NOT made for a large department. we should sell it to dunwoody and the other dekalb cities and get them off our radios.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody, like every othe city in DeKalb with the exception of Decatur, utilizes DeKalb County Fire. I see a lot of finger pointing here, but until an investigation is completed there will be no definitive answer. There have been 4 relatively senior folks placed on leave so it is clear there may have been a breakdown somewhere, but we should not pass judgement prior to having all of the information.

DeKalb Officers said...

What do you expect from a Major who is running the 911 center who has never worked the streets more than a minute.

Anonymous said...

To AnonymousCop #7... So, you've had to "walk" an operator through getting the basic info huh?? and "injuries or no injuries" really? Hmmm, that would beee 41-no injs, 41i-INJURIES, when else does a unit ask about injuries smart one?? LOL And you're probably the same unit that doesn't hear " LINE DISCONNECTED, NO FURTHER" -you: " Radio do you have any further?" or " NO ANSWER ON CALLBACK TO COMPL " you: " radio attempt a callback.." yesss, you're the one " RADIO 10-9 THE -20 OF THE CALL , IT DROPPED FROM MY CAD SCREEN" yeeeeah ok, "it dropped" you still cant figure out how to show your unit ENR, OS, pull a case number, run your own 98-out of Georgia, let alone out of another state, self-initiate a subject stop or 10-94heaven FORBID you show your unit 10-8 and enter a disposition HA!!... Radio, Radio, Radio, I need , I need , I need..WAH, WAH WAH, help me, help me, help mee. I mean you really want to go there??? It might be worth your while to come sit up in the communications center, at the least for a much needed attitude adjustment! Hope to see you soooon!!! smooooches :)

DeKalb Officers said...

PEACE! This not about finger pointing between officers, call takers and dispatchers.

This is about the inadequate CAD system the department has purchased and has no funds to correct it.

Don't attack each other, none of us have any control over it. Hurl your attacks to the command staff and Decatur, they created this monster.

Anonymous said...

I know these guys and if something went wrong it was a mistake not intentional . They are all devastated by someone losing their life not concerned about themselves. If they could change this they would. As firefighters everyday you walk out of your home in the mornings you say goodbye to your family and don't know if you will ever come back home. All firefighters and police officers of Dekalb County will sacrifice their lives for the citizens of Dekalb but after the comments of some of the residents it shows us how much that sacrifice means nothing to some people. I've lost several friends doing this job seen many horrible things and now while on the streets have to wonder what the citizens are thinking. Over the years we have had a lot of public moral support which makes this job worth doing, without that it has no meaning.

Anonymous said...

holy cow this got way heated...we all work for the citizens..let's remember we all work for the same team..let's just keep everyone involved here in your thoughts and prayers..the table could turn and it could be us the next day..i have nothing but respect for the fire rescue, police officers and 911 center..we all need to work together..

Anonymous said...

Radio, you have a hard job that I would never want to do; both sides could try a little harder to better understand what the other does.

Calls DO drop for no apparent reason; 98 doesn't come back on my KDT when it will come back for radio. Sometimes I'm a good distance away from my unit and I need 98 or a 10-11 verbally. It's not that we're lazy or trying to make more work for radio, it's primarily an indication that our system is royally screwed and people on both ends are frustrated and forced to do more work.

Anonymous said...

To all those out on the streets protecting us:

I hope for you to be happy, safe, and feeling tremendous respect and reward for what you do, NOT just when you're at work, but what I know many of you do when you're not at work. Overall, I know you're compassionate, noble people who never stop giving back to the community, and often sacrifice your own family lives to do so.

There will always be people out there ready and waiting to criticize you if you slip up. In part, it's grief, wanting to find a source to take their anguish/anger out on (PTSD), in part not understanding the complexity and complications of the job, an unfortunate trend in our society away from accepting personal responsibility (the "blame and sue" syndrome), and in part, their own other emotional baggage that have nothing to do with a particular situation.

Our hearts are breaking over the loss of our beloved resident and her pet, but my heart is breaking for you too. No reasonable person believes this horrible event had a malicious intent.

God bless -

Anonymous said...

But the Major did manage to get accidently shot in the academy. You mean that doesn't make him qualified for all the positions that he has had?? After all, he does have a committee to make his decisions for him. What on earth is wrong with you people? Qualifications...pish posh!

Anonymous said...

A recent post by an officer indicated the need to ask radio to run NCIC/GCIC checks or provide a case number because they are too far from their unit. That laziness or for whatever other reason makes the request of the radio operator necessary.

Based on my experience in the field, a veteran officer, and FTO, this needs to be said. I have watched officers request this information standing next to their units when I have knowledge that they at that moment have the capability to do it themselves. What is the explanation for this request of an already over-tasked radio operator? It is either a developed or learned bad habit. I would not feel the need to say so otherwise.

Now, to the operators I would say this. Once we pull an initial case number, we can't pull any additional. We have to have your help on this one. Second, there are still some dead spots out there where we loose connection. Hopefully going digital on the CAD system will fix this. And last, in fairness to officers who legitimately have an IMMEDIATE need due to time or safety must request information when they might otherwise have the capability to do it themselves under more ideal conditions, it is better to ask for your assistance. (Please officers, don't abuse this for the operators' sake, okay?)

I am not taking sides here. But, we all know, officers and operators alike, that our current CAD sucks. Our previous system, VisionAir, I preferred so much better. Because I and everyone else had so much more capability to be autonomous. Heck, we had more capability with the old KDT's and that system than we do today. There is nothing user-friendly about our current system. I despise the text as well. And returning NCIC/GCIC responses disturbing my ability to review the ones already received is down right prehistoric!

So, listen to your radio ladies and gents. You really need to listen well more than ever. There is too much requesting of the operators to repeat information that we as officers should have caught in the first place. You may want to consider doing what I do. Write it down on a Post-It note stuck to your laptop. And operators as well as some officers, let's watch the attitudes, okay? Remember, it is not WHAT you say, but HOW you say it. Thanks. :-)

Again, for any speculators, yes, I am an officer. Never been an operator, or have a relative or friend up there. Just being realistic and fair.

Anonymous said...

TO THE VETERAN/FTO OFFICER.... God Bless you for being candid and taking the time to voice your experiences and thoughts on the blog. I truly have taken this to heart, all operators and officers who read your comment should do the same. ( YES I will become more aware of my tone while on your radio---whichever that is) *wink* :)

milkman said...

After reading some of these post, it is obvious their is no experence in Fire fighting. A house can smolder for hours after initial flash, without oxygen it will just sit and wait for air. Once it gets it is gone. All that had to be done was a walk of the home, it would have been found if it had any fire at all.

milkman said...

Where were the Police on this call? All structure fire calls should have police also.

Anonymous said...

To milkman: Fire rescue calls are broadcast over the overlapping precinct frequency for a given response location for "our general information" Police, Dunwoody included, are not directly dispatched to fire rescue calls. We only respond if a) an officer takes the initiative, (b) a supervisor instructs radio to dispatch a police unit, or (c) once fire rescue is already on scene request a police response.

And as a police officer, milkman, I'm offended by your remark that our fire rescue personnel, have "no experience". What happened in this sad situation was either bad decisions to adequate information or best decisions in light of inadequate information. The more we learn about this tragic event, the more it is beginning to look like a combination of both of these factors.

milkman, it's just tragic for all involved. The victim and her family, and the firefighters and their families. It's over. No one wins. But, this tragic event IS NOT reflective of our fire rescue department or its personnel as a whole.

Fire rescue, I appreciate you and will always be there for you. And when you are running 10-18 to something and you happen to see a PD car shadowing your response, it might be me. And if someone fails to yield to you, don't fret. I'll handle it. ;) I already do :)

BHH retired Dekalb Fire said...

This certainly was and still is a tragic situation, but the vast majority of those commenting on this have no idea what they are even discussing. It has only been made worse by the injustice of the politically motivated knee jerk over-reaction perpetrated on these fire fighters by a manager who is obviously unfamiliar with fire service operations.
If Dekalb County fired every fire officer who did not properly implement the incident command system within the last 6 weeks, they would probably have to shut down the service until they could hire, train and promote several hundred firefighters. There are many reasons to fire someone but an honest mistake is not one of them.
If the firefighters had located the given address they certainly would have gone up the driveway to the door. The lack of an incident command did not cause the death of this victim and the firefighters did not cause it either. However many other factors did contribute to her death and that is where this investigation should be headed instead of head hunting.
All the misdirected anger and publicity could be better used to inform the public of things that may well prevent a similar tragedy in the future.
1. Anyone who does not have their address clearly marked (so that it’s visible from the street, as Dekalb has required for as long as I can remember) needs to do it immediately and if possible in more than one way.
2. If you are aware of out of sequence numbering or anything else unusual in an area, make it known immediately to the local fire station. Ask them to post it in the station and notify their neighboring stations to do the same.
3. If you or anyone else you know of commonly uses an automatic garage door for entrance and exit of their home, be sure everyone in the home is aware of how to open it or take the next best exit in case the door malfunctions in an emergency.
4. Install smoke detectors throughout your home, each bedroom, each hallway, each utility area and on all floors regardless of use. Test them monthly and replace the batteries yearly. They are inexpensive and many fire departments (such as Dakalb County GA) provide them free of charge if you cannot afford them and will even install them and provide replacement batteries.
5. Keep a check on your elderly loved ones and be sure these things are done. Also be aware of their method of use with respect to things like oxygen equipment.

Any one of these things could have saved this woman’s life.

Rest assured the firefighters will get their due if they are negligent.

However, every firefighter I’ve ever met would rather fight a fire in its early stages instead of when it becomes an inferno.

No matter how lazy or tired or hungry or cold or wet or burned out they may be.

I would not be surprised if the remaining firefighters chose not to act as officer in the future for fear of loosing their jobs. Under this kind of scrutiny, who would want to risk it? It’s hard enough to make decisions in that position without being second-guessed by everyone.