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Damaged hose a factor in fatal fire

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
Salisbury Fire Chief Bob Parnell said Tuesday a 4- to 6-inch gash in the hose manned by four firefighters, including Victor Isler and Justin Monroe, led to their losing water as they fought the Salisbury Millwork fire March 7.
The cut hose represents what the Fire Department considers “mechanical damage” and why the hose team, led by Capt. Rick Barkley, lost water pressure on their end while they were in the woodworking plant.
A Rapid Intervention Team from Locke Fire Department was able to reach Barkley inside and get him to safety. Barkley suffered first- and second-degree burns.
Another member of the hose team, Brian Roberts, made it out of the building, but Isler and Monroe died from heat exposure.
Parnell said investigators believe the fire hose was cut when it was dragged across a sharp object somewhere inside the plant, which was destroyed in the $2 million fire.
The Fire Department knows about the gash in the hose because Barkley saw it and radioed in about the dead line.
Parnell said the cut led to the loss of water at the end of the hose, while the front end continued to have pressure.
Last week, narratives accompanying final autopsy reports for Isler and Monroe mentioned that the hose the men were manning that day “burned in two.”
Parnell indicated that the autopsy narrative about the hose wasn’t meant to reflect anything official and that his final report will speak to the gash and not the hose’s being burned as the reason the team lost water.
Fire burned the hose later.
Barkley followed the hose out to a point where exhaustion took over and he couldn’t go any farther. It’s there that the Rapid Intervention Team was able to find him.
In honor of Isler and Monroe Tuesday, the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation donated two thermal imaging cameras worth $22,000 total. One will go to the Salisbury Fire Department; the other to Miller’s Ferry Fire Department, where Monroe also served as a volunteer.
Parnell and Miller’s Ferry Fire Chief Bobby Fox, who also serves as a captain with Salisbury, accepted the cameras at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Three thermal imaging cameras ó two belonging to Salisbury and one of Locke’s ó were destroyed in the Salisbury Millwork fire.
Parnell said each of the four Quint teams and Rescue 1 used thermal imaging cameras in the Salisbury Millwork fire.
Capt. David Morris of the Salisbury Fire Department said the handheld MSA 5200 cameras, often carried in a firefighter’s belt area as part of turnout gear, are “a very important tool.”
They are used to navigate through thick smoke, locate victims more quickly, help find the seat of a fire, locate hidden fires and assess the structural integrity of buildings.
Morris said the cameras sense heat, and objects with greater temperatures appearing white on their screens. Parnell said it can’t be overstated how important the cameras are to fire service.
Justin Scotto and Rick Daya, franchise owners of Charlotte Firehouse Subs, attended the council meeting.
Scott said it’s an easy thing to donate funds after fire-related tragedies, “but it’s a very hard thing to keep donating.” He said Isler and Monroe were hometown heroes reflective of all firefighters who when everyone is running out of a fire, “these guys are running in.”
Canisters that accept money on the counters at Firehouse Sub stores go toward the company foundation’s donations to firefighters.
The foundation provides emergency services with life-saving equipment, prevention and educational tools and other contributions.
The family of Firehouse Sub founders, Robin and Chris Sorensen, logged more than 200 years of service as firefighters, according to a press release.

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