Fire commander involved in fatal DC Metro incident unqualified for the job

NTSB finds the commander had completed only two of four incident training courses, posing unnecessary risks in incidents requiring ICS


WASHINGTON — In light of last year’s fatal D.C. Metro smoke incident, officials have reported that the D.C. Fire incident commander involved lacked proper and complete training.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a report which found that the commander, 911 dispatchers and D.C. Metro failed to properly prepare and respond to the L’Enfant Plaza incident.

“The lack of formal training criteria for the battalion chief position may pose unnecessary risk with respect to incidents requiring the incident command process,” was just one of the numerous flaws the NTSB found.

WTOP reported that the commander had only completed two of four incident command training courses and lacked sufficient training in setting up a unified command unit — which the NTSB believes contributed to the chaotic incident.

“That’s why you need training; that’s why you need procedures; that’s why you do drills,” NTSB member Robert Sumwalt said. “To take the chaos, and turn it into something more manageable.”

Apart from poor leadership, the board cited faulty radio connection, an absence of Metro emergency drills and delayed 911 dispatch as flaws in response to the incident that killed one and left over 90 injured.

NTSB DC Metro Smoke Incident Report

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