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Former chief explains protocol in fatal NY house fire

The former chief said that even though the residents had escaped safely, the priority was to save the home

By FireRescue1 Staff

NEWARK VALLEY, N.Y. — A former N.Y. fire chief has explained the reasoning for sending two firefighters into a fatal house fire when the residents had escape safely.

Capt. Matthew Porcari of the Owego Fire Department died from injuries he suffered after he fell through the floor of the burning home. Lt. Daniel Gavin also fell through the floor and was seriously injured; he was recently released from the hospital.

Former Newark Valley Fire Chief Cliff Alexander told WBNG the firefighters were sent into the home, even though all residents had escaped without injury, to help stop the flames from spreading and to save the home.

"Nothing had indicated to them at that point that there was anything unsafe about it, and I think when they determined that the floor was becoming unsafe was the same time that the firemen fell through the floor," Alexander said.

The former chief added that Capt. Porcari and Lt. Gavin were not the first people to enter the building and at the time that they arrived, there seemed to still be a chance the house could have been saved.

"It was an unfortunate accident, I think the only way it could have been prevented was by not fighting the fire." Alexander said. "But our job is to go out there and save people's property and try do it as safely as possible."

The cause of the fire has been ruled accidental.

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Richard Speakman Richard Speakman Thursday, January 24, 2013 4:11:51 PM its that risk management each fire fighter for themselves, its risk vs managment, if you can save the house do so, were trained in fire one and two is sound the floor before entering the home, pull the ceiling looking for any over head fire, making sure it doesn't come from behind to get us, each of us have a decission to make rather to go in or not, there are always signs of rather the house is safe to enter, like how long that fire has been burning and were if its in the floor joices, I'm sorry for the fire fighters for there loss but its safety first no house is worth losing a fire fighter over, even if there's some one inside that house if we know there is no one that can survive that fire we don't go in after them.
John English John English Thursday, January 24, 2013 5:25:05 PM Rip brother
Danny LaShelle Danny LaShelle Friday, January 25, 2013 9:56:17 AM There is a saying in the Fire Service, It say's risk little to save little, Risk a lot to save a lot?

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