East Hartford drill ends with firefighter injured and house on fire
EAST HARTFORD, Connecticut – A East Hartford Fire Department lieutenant has been suspended for causing a fire during training that injured another firefighter.
The Hartford Courant reports that Fire Chief John Oates announced the suspension of Lieutenant Doug McKeon as a result of a Freedom of Information Request.
Lieutenant McKeon, a 21-year veteran of the fire department, was suspended without pay for 14 days in January and February.
On November 25, 2019 firefighters were in an acquired house conducting training on hoseline stretches and searching for victims.
The town had bought the property at 1718 Main Street as a possible location for a new Fire Station No.2 firehouse.
Before the property was to be demolished, the fire department and the police department used it for training.
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Chief Oates said that the fire department sometimes uses
theatrical smoke in training but that on the November date McKeon used road
flares to enhance the scenario.
Two lit flares were placed inside a metal bucket in a second-floor bathtub.
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The bathroom caught fire requiring additional firefighters to arrive and extinguish the fire.
A fire lieutenant suffered a respiratory injury that required medical attention.
The injured lieutenant has since recovered.
The Courant did not go on to say how the flares caused the fire or how, in detail, the other lieutenant was injured.
There was no approved plan for live fire training according to Oates. His letter to McKeon noted that he “failed to immediately recognize the gravity of the situation and asked the Safety Officer to ‘hold up’ on requesting additional resources.”
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Connecticut’s Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, CONN-OSHA, investigated the incident and did not fine or cite the fire department.
In addition to his suspension McKeon was placed on a one-year probation and prohibited from conducting multi-company drills unless the chief training officer or shift commander are present.
Fire Chief Oates said the Lieutenant McKeon is a good employee and sometimes good employees make bad decisions.