City warned about lack of fire training 17 years before fatal blaze in Delaware

  • Source: Wilmington News Journal (Delaware Online)
  • Published: 01/18/2019 12:00 AM

The 1997 fire at the Delaware Trust building was a wake-up call. Firefighters were confused about who was in charge and struggled to coordinate during the high-rise blaze that injured 15 of them at what is now the Residences at Rodney Square, federal investigators said in a report two years later. The feds recommended additional training. They said Wilmington should utilize nearby training facilities, conduct exercises with county companies and "evaluate their in-service training program to ensure that it is adequately preparing fire fighters to respond to various incidents," the report said. "There were people going every which way," then-fire union president Mike McNulty told The News Journal in 1999. "We were lucky we didn't lose anyone." Nearly two decades later, the department wasn't so lucky. A blaze on Sept. 24, 2016, in Canby Park took the lives of three Wilmington firefighters: Christopher Leach, Jerry Fickes and Ardythe Hope. A lack of training for firefighters and officers was cited among the factors that turned the fire fatal, federal investigators said in a November report.


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