BOSTON (CBS) – Two new reports were released Thursday on the Back Bay fire two years ago that killed two Boston firefighters.
Lieutenant Edward Walsh and firefighter Michael Kennedy died when they were trapped in the basement of a brownstone in a 9-alarm fire on Beacon Street on March 26, 2014.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report claims inadequate staffing, a lack of training for wind-swept fires and failure to judge the risks were all major factors in the tragedy.
Read: The NIOSH report (.pdf)
The Boston Fire Department also released its own report Thursday on what went wrong that day.
That document supports earlier findings blaming the fire on welders working without permits to modify stair railings on the building next door.
The fire had burned undetected and quickly moved inside through hidden voids in the ceiling, Commissioner Joseph Finn said during a news conference Thursday.
The federal report cited the lack of nearby fire hydrants and the absence of sprinklers in the old building.
The report found that Walsh requested water but it never reached the nozzle because the fire had burned through the hose.
Their recommendations include better training for fighting wind-driven fires, the need for fire-resistant hoses, and adequate staffing at fires in tightly populated areas.
Finn read a statement from the families of both firefighters during Thursday’s news conference.
Finn recalled the day of the incident, calling the events a “perfect storm” that unfolded right in front of them.
Walsh and Kennedy were trapped in the basement after a tenant in one of the apartment said she was unsure if the resident in a basement apartment had evacuated.
“A lot of alarms were sounded, and a lot of significant rescue attempts were made,” Finn said. “At the time, situations deteriorated so rapidly that a decision was made to evacuate everyone from the building. The decision was made by myself.”
Kennedy’s mother Kathy Crosby-Bell has been pushing for research to improve fire hoses.
“When the hose burned behind the firemen preventing water from filling the hose and death results, it’s time for all families to say this is not going to happen again,” Crosby-Bell told WBZ-TV.
“Do I think my son’s death was preventable? Yes, I do,” she said.
Far from a scathing report on the fire department, Crosby-Bell has a different take.
“It’s a scathing report on the taxpayers of the city of Boston. You failed to fund your fire department,” she said.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports