New evidence revealed in family of fallen Houston firefighters' lawsuit

The families of Robert Bebee, Robert Garner, Matthew Renaud and Anne Sullivan are suing Motorola, claiming their radios are to blame for the firefighters’ deaths

By FireRescue1 Staff

HOUSTON — New evidence was revealed in a lawsuit against Motorola filed by the families of four firefighters who died while battling a blaze.

Click2Houston reported that the families of Robert Bebee, Robert Garner, Matthew Renaud and Anne Sullivan sued Motorola in 2016 and claimed their radios are to blame for the deaths of the firefighters, and pathologist Dr. Michael Baden recently backed up the claims with a report.

The report said that the firefighters, who died from suffocation, could have been revived if they had been reached seven minutes after they lost air, but the radios caused other firefighters to be delayed by 18 minutes while searching for them.


Dr. M. Baden Report on SW Inn Firefighters' Deaths by Ed Praetorian on Scribd



“We want to reiterate our sympathy toward victims of the May 2013 tragedy and remind that an independent report after the fire listed numerous potential contributing factors,” Motorola said in a 2016 statement. “Since the fire, Motorola Solutions has worked closely with the Houston Fire Department to improve training and understanding of operational capabilities, as well as to provide system enhancements.  We stand behind our equipment and support our Houston customer.”

"At this point in the incident, radio communications were severely hampered due to significant radio traffic, which overloaded the radio system,” a NIOSH report of the fire said.

The NIOSH report also found that the crews were trying to locate every firefighter, but “due to issues with the radio system, it took the accountability officer 44 minutes to complete the personal accountability report.”


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