Communication and staffing problems blamed in Chicago firefighter death

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photo credit: WGN (Via CNN)

Investigators say poor communication and staffing shortages contributed to the on-the-job death of a Chicago firefighter.

WGN reports federal investigators cited those factors in the death of Capt. Herbert Johnson, a 32-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department who died as he battled a house fire in November 2012.

Johnson was inside the house for six minutes when a commander announced over department radios that other firefighters would be ventilating the building and blasting water into the attic.

Johnson never confirmed that he got that message, but the plan proceeded.  Investigators said Johnson repeatedly ordered his crew to safety after he suffered severe burns to his hands, face and mouth.

The firefighter-paramedic who found Johnson also did not have a radio, and instead had to scream “mayday” to summon help.

Both the Fire Department and the firefighters union have reportedly reviewed the report.  A union official said the report, while an important learning tool, also shows that fires are filled with hidden dangers beyond anyone’s control.

This is the second time in three years that poor communication has been cited.