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  1. #1
    Garland Greene's Avatar
    Garland Greene is offline Jersey Retired
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    Aug 2006
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    Late 911 reactions causes total loss to resturaunt

    First let me say that I have eaten at this place several tinmes as I have family all over the area down there so I am personally a little sad. Hopefull they rebuild. And I assume they will. Since I have a feelingg the city of Austin will be buying a new place after the suit settles.

    911 Calls Shed Light On Events Around Bert's Bar-B-Q Fire

    One week ago Wednesday, an Austin staple, Bert's Bar-B-Q, burned down. But now, new details are emerging that show the fire could have been put out before any real damage was done.

    In fact, two different people called 911 to report the fire, but the dispatcher doubted one caller and took his time with the second.
    At 1:45 a.m., a man sees heavy smoke but no flames coming from Bert's Bar-B-Q. He thinks it's on fire and calls 911, but the dispatcher says the smoke is probably coming from something else.

    Dispatch says, "It's white smoke, isn't it?"
    Caller says, "Yeah. Yeah, it is."
    Dispatch says, "Yeah, yeah, it's probably from their smoker, like where they cook the brisket."
    Caller says, "I see..."

    "Based on that conversation, the dispatcher elected not send any resources at that time," said Assistant Chief Jim Evans with the Austin Fire Department.

    At that time, Bert's was on fire. Taxi driver Joel Perez could see it, right in front of his face.

    "[I] noticed that smoke was coming all around," Perez said, "not from here, all the way around from the building."

    So he also called 911 and got the same dispatcher and the same response.

    Dispatch says, "OK, does it smell like the wood? Or does it smell like something else is on fire?"
    Caller says, "No, it smells like wood. There's a lot of it. I was just going across the street, and I could smell it. There's, like, all this, you know, bit of a hazy smoke around here."
    Dispatch says, "Well, could they be smoking their briskets?"
    Caller says, "No, that's not brisket."

    "You could tell something was burning," Perez said. "It's not brisket. It's not sausage that is burning."

    At the end of Joel's call, the dispatcher finally sends out firefighters to Bert's Bar-B-Q, some 45 minutes after the first call. And that's huge, considering it would have taken firefighters 45 seconds to get there. After all, the fire station is right down the street.

    "It certainly appears an error of judgment occurred," Evans said.

    Bert's is now a total loss, and workers like Jason Goss are out of a job.

    "I think it's safe to assume when the first call came in, and certainly having a 45-minute delay between the two calls, would have made a difference," Evans said.

    Goss says, "I'm sure that would have helped a little bit."
    KXAN's Sally Hernandez says, "And maybe you would have had a job today?"
    Goss says, "Yes, ma'am."

    In another twist, the dispatcher is a firefighter himself, and he is now under investigation by AFD.

  2. #2
    marcosMN is offline Star Spokesman
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    Dec 1969
    Mpls, MN

    Re: Late 911 reactions causes total loss to resturaunt

    Incompitance in emergency workers is like blindness in airline pilots...

    For some reason, it just doesn't seem to work...


  3. #3
    NodakPaul's Avatar
    NodakPaul is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Late 911 reactions causes total loss to resturaunt

    That sucks.
    I wonder if they had gotten calls to that restaurant before when people reported a fire but it was just the bbq.
    Do they normally bbq in the middle of the night?
    I know a brisket needs to be slow roasted for a long time, so I guess it is possible.

    No excuse for the lack of response though, considering it would have been nothing to send someone by.
    If he didn't want to wake all the firefighters for a false alarm, then send one of the cops on duty to check it out.
    Hopefully this guy loses his job, IMHO.

    I worked dispatch for a while during my stint on the job too, and I know from experience that some of the stupidest mistakes are made over the phone.
    There are a lot of good dispatcher training courses, like PowerPhone, but as far as I know there is no legal requirement for certification of dispatchers.
    Some of the large cities, where the people taking the calls and the people dispatching the emergency units are in separate rooms, have had a lot of problems in the past with lack of communication.
    One case that comes to mind was in Philadelphia where several people called 911 to report a teenager getting beaten by a group of people, and they didn't send anyone out for nearly half an hour... after the teen had died.
    Zeus wrote:
    When are you going to realize that picking out the 20 bad throws this year and ignoring the 300 good ones does not make your point?


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