Multiple factors caused firefighter training inferno, report says



Bio | Email | Follow: @cjingalls

Posted on February 25, 2014 at 8:50 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 25 at 8:59 PM

There’s a new report surrounding a training exercise mishap in which firefighters ended up spraying jet fuel instead of water.

The State Patrol Fire Academy in North Bend is the place for firefighter training in Washington.
What we learn from the report is that the academy staff knew in October they had a problem with the aircraft mock up -- a prop that firefighters use to simulate a airplane crash.

Port of Seattle crews from Sea-Tac halted their training that day. They came back four days later with assurances that the problem was fixed. It wasn't, and here's what happened.

Jet fuel ended up in the prop's fire suppression system and in the firefighter's water hoses.

The training exercise exploded in a ball of fire and was quickly halted. Fortunately, there were only minor injuries to two Port of Seattle firefighters.

But this has turned into a costly accident. The State Patrol, which runs the academy, has spent $500,000 cleaning up fuel out of the soil. And the aircraft training prop is destroyed - another $100,000.
The investigation into this by a Kent battalion chief concludes no one at the academy had a full understanding of how to run the academy's out-dated oil-water separator. It's supposed to filter the jet fuel out of the firefighting water. The two employees who ran it for decades at the academy retired and it's not an easy thing to operate.

The report says bad communication and a lack of understanding about this equipment led to this mishap.
The report says it was a combination of problems, not any one person's fault.
The Port of Seattle -- whose firefighters were closest to the inferno -- had no comment about the report Tuesday. They say they'll leave it up to the State Patrol to sort this out.

Garling Report Final