Report blames Chicago Fire Department after fatal blaze

A federal investigation cites poor communications and staffing shortages as contributing factors in the death of a 32-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department last year.

Capt. Herbert Johnson was in the house for only six minutes when things went terribly wrong.

A commander announced over department radios that other firefighters were ventilating the building and blasting water into the attic.

But Johnson never confirmed that he got that message. The plan proceeded anyway.

The report confirms that the firefighter-paramedic who found Johnson did not have a radio and was reduced to screaming “mayday” to call attention to Johnson’s injuries.

The report also describes the harrowing scene inside a burning Gage Park neighborhood two-flat on Nov. 2, 2012, where Capt. Herbert Johnson repeatedly ordered his men to safety after suffering severe burns to his hands, face and the inside of his mouth.

Both the Fire Department and the firefighters union have reviewed the report. A union official said the report, while an important learning tool, also shows that fires are filled with hidden dangers beyond anyone’s control.

This is the second time in three years that poor communication has been cited.

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