Area Firefighters Learn From Another Department's Tragedy

By: Jeff Herndon Email
By: Jeff Herndon Email

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Today was training day for more than 200 area firefighters who were learning from one fire department's tragedy, in order to prevent another closer to home.

On June 18, 2007, a furniture store in Charleston, South Carolina caught fire. Nine firefighters died that day, the greatest single-loss of firefighters since 9/11.

Gordon Routley was the lead investigator on the furniture store fire. He came to Wichita to speak about what went wrong during that blaze.

Area firefighters gathered at the Downtown Warren to hear Routley speak. He spoke about how the Charleston Fire Department wasn't prepared for what he calls the "big unusual incident."

"They got in there, the conditions changed and the fire got behind them. The firefighters were too deep inside and they got lost and started running out of air," Routley said.

In addition to his fire investigation duties and the training he conducts across the country, Routley is also a firefighter safety specialist for the National Fallen Firefighters Association.

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