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Poor Communication Blamed for Death of 2 Firefighters in Station Fire

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Hall and Quinones (LACFD)

Hall and Quinones (LACFD)
Unaware of how serious a threat the advancing fire posed, two LA County firefighters were killed during last year's massive Station Fire when their truck fell 800 feet off the side of a fire road south of Acton. A report released yesterday by the Los Angeles County Fire Department "blames poor communication as a major factor" in the August 30th deaths of Arnaldo Quinones and Tedmund Hall, according to the Star-News.Based at a remote location, Camp 16, the firefighters "were not in contact with the centralized fire command to receive evacuations orders," a practice that is common in wildfires when the personnel engage in what is referred to as "an 'organizational culture' that 'allows firefighters to accept a notably higher risk to protect structures in wildland fires.'"

Assigned to set controlled burns to protect the camp, Quinones and Hall at Camp 16 had opted to stay behind and not evacuate. The report "also notes that a helicopter pilot flying over the Camp 16 area almost six hours before the firefighters' deaths reported that they were in serious danger. The pilot, however, was unable to radio the camp directly and attempted to relay a warning message to the central fire command." They never got the message.

Quinones and Hall were memorialized at a large public service held at Dodger Stadium. Now following this report, public officials are calling for reform in how the County Fire Department handles communication, in the hopes tragedy like this can be prevented.