Above is the link for the audio from Sunday night’s fire at the Wesley Community United Methodist Church that trapped firefighters and left five of them with burns. The “mayday” is heard shortly after the 3:00 point.
Captain Kathrynne Baumtrog remain at Hennepin County Medical Center being treated for first and second degree burns. Her husband, Captain Paul Baumtrog, who helped in his wife’s rescue (see earlier STATter911.com story), was treated for burns and released as were Captain Joe Mattison, Firefighter Sandy Meredith, and Firefighter Christie Nixon.
Some of those firefighters were trapped in the attic without water, their exit blocked by fire and unable to chop their way through the walls and the floor. Captain Mattison was among them. He talked to KMSP-TV:
“Last night was probably the closest that I’ve ever seen us come to losing a group of firefighters,” said Capt. Joe Mattison. “We’re glad we are here this morning.”
Mattison said he and four other firefighters were 30 feet from the fire’s origin when conditions changed rapidly.
“We were down as low as we could get, and my ears were tingling and back was tingling — not tingling, burning,” he said. “We were getting toasted in there.”
Mattison said they didn’t have any water coming from their hose, so the group counted to three and decided to make a dash for it.
On Tuesday, union president Mark Lakosky used the attention on the injured firefighters to remind the public about cuts in recent years to the Minneapolis Fire Department’s staffing telling KARE-TV, “This is far from a union issue, this is a safety issue. We aren’t being protected and I got to say something.”
“Where we are at with these levels and continued cuts, people will die, are we really going to wait for that?” Lakosky said.
Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel isn’t shying away from the fact that he oversees a smaller staff. He says the numbers in the department have been on a downward trend for years. The department currently has 390 people on the full time roster, down from more than 450 a decade ago.
Chief Fruetel says he is looking to change that. “Obviously we would love to have more firefighters and that is frankly a challenge of mine as the Chief to grow us back and provide a means for us to hire firefighters,” Chief Fruetel said.
Also on STATter911 …
- Sick leave ‘abuse’ suddenly drops by 66-percent in Minneapolis FD. See how one fire chief solved problem only days after consultant’s report made newspaper headlines. – July 31, 2012
- Firefighter calls mayday while battling fire & autistic man. Both became trapped in Knoxville, TN home. – January 19, 2013
- UPDATED: Detroit sends out order closing 15 fire companies. 200 firefighters to be demoted. – July 2, 2012
- Raw video: Rescue from Chicago’s ‘holy shit’ fire. – June 27, 2012
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