Report Clears Firefighters In Deadly Training Blaze

November 19, 2002

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The state fire marshal's office cleared firefighters of any criminal wrongdoing Tuesday in connection with a training fire that killed two firefighters, WESH NewsChannel 2 reported.

John Mickel and Dallas Begg were killed during the blaze last July in Osceola County.

Thick black smoke billowed out of the abandoned Florida Bible College during the fire, a videotape showed.

It's the first time the state fire marshal's office has released a videotape of the training fire that killed Osceola County firefighters Dallas Begg and John Mickel.

They were killed shortly before flames shot out of a window in the videotape. It's a sign that the room they were in flashed over, when everything inside goes up in flames.

The state fire marshal's report on the tragedy cleared firefighters and the department of any wrongdoing. After reviewing the tape, the state attorney's office concluded the evidence doesn't establish probable cause for prosecution.

Clarke Begg, Dallas' father, agreed with the decision.

The videotape also showed the inside of the home was gutted by fire. The state fire marshal confirmed a foam rubber mattress was placed on the fire to create thick black smoke.

The report said the addition of the foam mattress is one of many variables that could contribute to a flashover, but it is not the exclusive cause. Using a foam rubber mattress to set training fires violates standards from the National Fire Protection Association.

Begg's father said he understands firefighters use the mattress to make firefighting more realistic, but he said it bothered him.

The fire marshal also found there was a failure in communication between safety officers inside the home and Begg and Mickel. Begg's father doesn't want to assign blame. He and his family are trying to move on.

An attorney hired by Mickel's family said standard operating procedures need to be in place to prevent this kind of accident from happening again. The state fire marshal's office will review state fire codes.

Director Randal Napoli said he wants to see if changes need to be made statewide because of the tragedy in Osceola County.

Previous Stories:
October 10, 2002: New Findings In Deadly Fire Training Exercise
September 5, 2002: Computers To Recreate Training Fire After Deaths
September 2, 2002: Firefighter To Receive 'Killed In Line Of Duty' Honors
August 6, 2002: Thousands Gather For Firefighter's Funeral
August 1, 2002: Cause Of Death Determined For Fallen Firefighters
July 31, 2002: Officials Await Firefighters' Autopsy Results
July 30, 2002: 2 Firefighters Die In Training Exercise
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