FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --The Fresno Fire Department has released a 274 page report nearly a year after Captain Pete Dern fell through the roof of a burning home.
Fire Chief Kerri Donis said,"As hard as it may be for some people to hear it or read it, I think we get beyond that initial ouch and we courageously pick ourselves up and we say let's go."
Rising from the ashes has been a painstaking process for Captain Dern and the department. While he fought for his life in the hospital and after he celebrated his first steps home, a team was sifting through the details of the tragedy to figure out what went wrong and what could have been done better. "We have an opportunity here to drill down further into this incident and look at our organization," Chief Donis added, "our culture, our safety practices, our communications, our command and control, all of those factors."
It's all in the report and several problems were pointed out, including Captain Dern's gear-- he wasn't fully protected at the time of the fall. The department doesn't have a policy for risk assessment or a procedure specific to residential garage fires and rooftop training appeared to be limited in regards to recognizing light weight roof construction.
Chief Donis says there's also a major issue with the firefighting culture - caution tends to be overlooked in the rush to put out the flames. "We're firefighters, we have servants hearts...we want to help and sometimes we do that at our own peril to try to affect a rescue."
Still, she says the report isn't about blame. Instead, it's more of a handbook to guide firefighters and prevent another accident from happening.