Fla. fire captain suspended over Snapchat at fatal fire

Polk Fire Rescue Capt. James Williams was suspended for sending video of a burning home in which a woman, who later died, was trapped

By FireRescue1 Staff

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A fire captain was suspended for sending a Snapchat video outside of a burning home while an elderly woman, who later died, was trapped inside.

WFLA reported that Loretta Pickard, 76, called 911 and stayed on the phone with them for 20 minutes while trapped inside her burning home.

"I think my house is on fire and I'm here alone and I'm on a walker," Pickard can be heard telling the dispatcher.

"They're there, is your door unlocked?" the dispatcher said.

"Yes, tell them to hurry!" Pickard said.

According to a log obtained by WFLA investigators from a PCFR source, a dispatcher told the responding firefighters several times that Pickard was inside and that she was still alive. Deputy County Manager Joe Halman Jr. said firefighters tried to rescue her, but it was too dangerous.

"At one point they went around the house and the fire was so hot did they kind of got singed themselves in an effort to try to rescue this lady," Halman said.

However, the search and rescue attempt was not recorded in the log, and there was no mention of Pickard.

Halman said not everything that happened at the scene was recorded in the log, but the investigators’ source said the department’s standard protocol is to report every action.

Capt. James Williams, who was reportedly calling the shots on the scene, was suspended for sending a Snapchat video during the incident.

"It's violation of our policy and as a result he was suspended for 24 hours without pay," Halman said.


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