Officials Review Response to Deadly Ohio Fire: December

Officials Review Response to Deadly Ohio Fire

Nearly two minutes elapsed between the time a dispatcher received a call and alerted firefighters about a blaze that subsequently killed four people in Kettering on Dec. 12, according to the incident's call log.

The Dayton Daily News has analyzed the 911 audio and call logs surrounding the deadly fire, reviewing dispatch and firefighter response times because of the severity of the blaze, the city's deadliest in 25 years.

Although the dispatcher's response time of 1 minute and 58 seconds meets the national standard, it will be part of the department's overall review of the incident, Kettering Fire Department Battalion Chief Jon Durrenberg said, adding that they typically review all major responses.

"We review the crews being dispatched, fire response, we look at our performance on the scene, the decision making process and just about anything we can improve on," he said.

The cause of the fire at 1963 Craig Drive has yet to be determined, and the dispatchers who responded to the call are still on duty, Durrenberg said.

Alicia Mobley, her two sons Shaun Mobley Jr. and Jacob Mobley, and her father Forrest Carroll died in the blaze. Their funeral service was held on Dec. 19.

The national standard time for a dispatcher to alert crews of a fire is between 1 minute and 15 seconds, and 2 minutes and 10 seconds after receiving the first call, said Ken Willette, manager for the public fire division of the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association. Also, crews should arrive at the scene up to 6 minutes after being dispatched, the organization recommends. The Massachusetts-based NFPA advocates for fire codes and standards, research, training and education. It also recommends average response times for the nation's fire departments.

The call for the deadly Craig Drive fire came in at 3:50 a.m. Crews arrived at the scene 4 minutes and 41 seconds after dispatch, according to the Kettering Fire Department. Six minutes and 39 seconds elapsed from the 911 call to the crew's arrival at the fully engulfed home - structures on either side of it suffered some damage.

Kettering currently does not track average response times for its dispatchers and firefighters, but they hope to start doing so early next year, Durrenberg said. The city invested more than $400,000 to upgrade all aspects of their emergency response system, he said. The Alert Public Safety Solution tracks response times and the like for dispatch, fire, EMS, police and other emergency personnel. The city put the system in place in July, and officials have been compiling data and upgrading it since.

"We are now extracting data like average response time, dispatch and any kind of analytical data that will let us know how the system is doing," Durrenberg said, adding that they hope to fully implement it early next year.

The average response time for area fire departments vary.

Trotwood Fire Department averages 6 minutes and 23 seconds from dispatch to arrival at the scene, Chief Stephen H. Milliken said.

In 2012, Dayton Fire Department crews arrived at scenes within 5 minutes of receiving the alarm 72 percent of the time, which exceeded their goal of 70 percent, Assistant Fire Chief Paul Sheehan said.

The Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center handles emergency calls for 16 communities, including Dayton. The center dispatches fire crews an average of 1 minute and 54 seconds of receiving a call, said Capt. Matt Haines, the center's spokesman. The processing time for some calls, particularly EMS, may take longer because dispatchers try to get as much information as possible from the caller to determine the best course of action, the type of equipment they need and the like, he said.

Responding to emergencies in a timely manner has become challenging in the last 10 years because of cellphones, Haines said. Dispatchers are unable to immediately determine some cellphone callers' locations as they can with landlines. And because so many people have cellphones, the dispatch center is often flooded with calls about the same emergency, which slows down dispatch time as well.

"We know people have good intentions, but once you are sure that 911 has been called and you don't have any additional information to provide, it's best to wait for help to arrive," Haines said.

The city of Kettering has its own dispatch service and is not part of the Montgomery Regional Dispatch Center.


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