Grief Over Fire Triggers Massive Protest

In Southwest Philly, a confrontation between residents and public safety officials.

This is how it looked last night: Like the bad old days.

As many as 200 Southwest Philly protesters massed outside a neighborhood firehouse Monday night — several people were arrested — saying that fire crews took 30 minutes to respond to Saturday’s fatal blaze that gutted eight homes and killed four small children. In an evening press conference, city officials said the first responders were on the scene within five minutes of the fire being reported.

NBC 10 reports:

At least three people were arrested and a woman was hospitalized after angry residents gathered outside a Southwest Philly firehouse to protest what they believe was a delayed response to a multi-home fire that killed four young children.

Around 200 people protested outside the Engine 40 & Ladder 4 firehouse on 6438 Woodland Avenue on Monday around 6:25 p.m. The protest spiraled out of control and nearly turned into a riot as the crowd turned hostile, with some members of the crowd even hurling water bottles at police at one point.

6ABC adds:

Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer, Mayor Michael Nutter and other city officials addressed the outrage during a press conference.

“The members of the Philadelphia Fire Department, in particular the members on Engine 40, ladder 4 responded in a very timely fashion to this fire. Any other information put out by individuals that indicates otherwise is absolutely, positively, directly incorrect,” said Mayor Nutter.

“Their hearts are broken. There is no way, no how these members would not respond in a timely manner to save lives,” said Commissioner Sawyer.

The Inquirer:

Fire Department records indicate that (the original) 911 call was transferred to the department’s call center at 2:45:01 a.m. Forty-three seconds later, the call was entered into the system as a rubbish fire by a call-taker and sent to a dispatcher.

Because ladder trucks do not report to trash fires, the firefighters stationed around the corner were not immediately called to respond, the records show. Instead, a fire engine based at a station two miles away was sent.

If the fire had originally been deemed more serious, the firefighters in the ladder truck at the nearby station would have been deployed immediately, which could have permitted rescue attempts, one high-ranking department official said. The engine that was at the car fire could also have been redeployed sooner, the official said.

CBS Philly:

Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison says they’ll meet with community leaders to share the response timeline. Firefighters Union President Joe Schulle says, after listening to the dispatch tapes, they stand by the response. Officials say those tapes will be released to the public.

Into the evening, protestors marched in front of the house that was destroyed. Many were still shouting as community leaders were asking for calm.

“Most of the kids are trying to vent out their frustrations for what happened and what took place, but again we want to do it the best way possible. Not this way,” Dahn Dennis of the Liberian Association of Pennsylvania said.

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  • phillysportsfan

    In most asian countries, someone would have already taken responsibility by committing suicide. here, even though someone is certainly at fault, no one will be held responsibility. also, i wonder what the response to a trash fire would be if it was a main line address that was reported.

    • USMCGY

      Were are not in Asian countries. Residents on the main line, don’t have multiple adults shooting off m-80s & fireworks with young children at 02:30.

      NBC reported the fireman couldn’t even enter two of the rear row homes because of piled up debri in the rear yards.

      Main line residents don’t have young children sitting & playing on couches, sofas holding lit fire sparklers on thier front porches.

      Why don’t YOU & these people who continued to engage in lighting these fireworks for endless hours one report stated, for once, share responsibility for thier actions & stop blaming others(Fireman,Mayor,Police).

      RIP to the innocent children

      • True

        Thank you for your common sense. I have never lit or played with fireworks my whole life and I’m 30. Thank you mom and dad for not raising me in this city

        • USMCGY

          True: Don’t blame the city, the city life can be downright awesome, I’ve been all over the world. It truly is what you make of it anywhere you land. Take care.

    • Voice of reason

      The person who is at fault is the person who set off fireworks on a residential street. They should be protesting against that. This was completely preventable

      • True

        Those people they are not upset with. Why, cuz it was them and their friends. Rather blame everyone else. Typical ain’t it?! Would u expect anything less?

    • Jack Burton

      We don’t have trash fires on the Main Line

    • DrexelGrad14

      What main line community has debris piled in the backyard so emergency personal can’t even get in? What is a trash fire anyway? I’d say we “main liners” would put a garbage fire out with a fire extinguisher and never even have to call 911…

  • liberals are ignorant

    To all the low info voters who post the stupid comments. If you would be able to read any of the news articles you would have been able to extract any info that the first ladder co arrived 1 minute 46 seconds after the first call was received to 911. What we have here is a bunch of black trash acting out of anger who pay no taxes wanting to take out the frustration for the welfare state they have created for the own sheer stupidity of the life they have chosen to lead. Is This our problem these animals choose to live this way? NO! Let them kill each other of like the no good muslims are doing in the middle east

  • Enuf already

    Once again we see the mob mentality at work and completely misplaced. Question where were the parents of these 4 children? Where were any of adults? Who started this fire that got out of control? All of those who showed up as a mob, how many of them were at the house or on the street and what did they do? Again, where were the parents or any of the adults? Why did they not keep their premises clean and clear? I have a dog and wouldn’t leave him in any dangerous situation you can count on it that if if I had children, I’d feel just as strongly and would be with them. Personal accountability for one’s actions. It belongs to no one else.

    • True

      Parents were at the club most likely. Obviously weren’t no where around to allow a fire to get out of control before they could even get to one child

    • True

      None of them were there. But since none of them actually work, they decided to gather together and start a protest for something that has nothing to due with the real reason those kids died. No brave men or women were there to help, and those morons that PLAY with fireworks started that fire. Who has a couch on their porch ? J/s

      • Emilio Schendel

        Do, not “due”, you ignorant moron. Who has trouble with first grade homonyms? J/s

  • Kate Collins

    parents are at fault and don’t have the integrity to accept the blame.