Fired with desire to correct problems
Training, communications and previous experience were all problems for the Grand Junction Fire Department when its firefighters attacked the blaze that destroyed White Hall last Sept. 15.
Fortunately, no one was seriously injured battling the conflagration, but one firefighter fell through the floor of the century-old building and had to be rescued by his colleagues.
While that’s the bad news related to the White Hall fire, the positive news is this:
The leadership of the fire department recognized there were problems and chose to examine them in detail, and identify solutions to those problems. The result is a 35-page report on the fire that was made public this week.
More than anything, the report demonstrates that, while the department is well prepared to handle a typical house fire, it lacks the training and experience to as capably deal with a blaze at a large building. The speed with which a large fire may spread, structural issues — especially in older buildings — and communications difficulties as large fire crews attack different parts of a big blaze can all cause problems unlike those encountered in a typical house fire.
The department is already implementing some new training plans as a result of its report, and is looking for ways to make other improvements.
We commend the Grand Junction Fire Department and its leadership team for taking a critical look at its practices in the wake of the White Hall fire rather than ignoring the problems, allowing them to smolder until another large fire erupts and and cause potentially more serious consequences.