CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. - A review of the Camden County Fire Department will be done following a First Coast News investigation, County Administrator Steve Howard announced Wednesday.
The announcement came on the heels of Fire Chief Mark Crews correcting a misstatement he made earlier in the week about a total loss house fire in 2016.
"I inadvertently provided incorrect information on the record," Crews says in a statement released Wednesday. "This misstatement was based on my recollection of the event and a previous department policy."
Current and former firefighters originally told First Coast News a mechanical issue on a tanker truck was to blame. A report detailing the department's response showed the first units dispatched to the fire, engine 18 and tanker 18, were dispatched at the same time.
The report says engine 18 arrives five minutes later, but tanker 18 arrives nine minutes later - a four-minute difference.
”Initially, two people go on the fire engine because if it’s a small fire, they can knock it down with the water they come on the truck with," Crews says Monday. "Tanker 18 which responded, was actually picked up by another crew on their way to the fire.”
The account given by the fire chief is inaccurate because, in fact, a mechanical issue caused the tanker's delay.
"Tanker 18 was four minutes delayed to the scene of the Highway 259 fire, not because it was waiting for personnel, but because the truck needed to build the appropriate air pressure in its break system," Crews says.
The house fire and the department's response revealed broader concerns about the department.
The department began re-testing all of their engines' pumps Wednesday, ensuring they pump enough water through the hose and onto a fire.
Last year, 60 percent of the engines failed against a national standard, but all complied with a less demanding Georgia law, which allowed them to stay on the street.
The two engines tested Wednesday both passed the pump test at the higher rated national standard. Pump tests will be one part of a department-wide review announced by the county as a result of our reporting.
"I have asked former Fayette County Administrator and Fire Chief Jack Krakeel to conduct a thorough review of all fire equipment, policies and personnel concerns," says County Administrator Steve Howard.
Howard says more than $2 million has been dedicated to updating the department's fleet. He also says peer input programs have already been established so employees can voice concerns without interacting with management.
"I trust Chief Krakeel's expertise will uncover any issues that need attention and his reputation will instill confidence in Camden County's emergency preparedness," Howard says. The review will "Uncover any issues that need attention," and "instill confidence."