Family Files Suit Against Ga. FFs Who Missed Fire that Killed Their Mom


Ann Bartlett's three daughters spoke exclusively to CBS Atlantas Jennifer Mayerle about the lawsuit filed against DeKalb County and five fired firefighters. They said they were forced to sue because officials wouldn't listen to them. The lawsuit was filed Thursday on their behalf.

We've all suffered. It's just, a day doesn't go by that we don't think of her, said daughter Terri Vann.

Bartlett was more than just a mother to daughters Terri, Ruth and Linda.

It's like losing a best friend in addition to your mom, said Ruth Bartlett.

The grandmother and breast cancer survivor died in January when her Dunwoody home caught fire. She called 911. Help was sent, but the firefighters who arrived never got out of their trucks to see if she was OK.

She could probably hear them, said Vann.

We lay at night ourselves thinking about that, said Ruth Bartlett.

Hours later, firefighters were called back to her home. By that time, flames had engulfed the home.

If just one of those people had circled back using common sense, we feel like Mother would be alive today, said Ruth Bartlett.

Five firefighters were fired. DeKalb County says each of them had a responsibility to either establish command at the scene or relay imperative information to field crews. None did.

It haunts me and the fact that it could have been avoided haunts me even more, said Vann.

The sisters said they tried to talk to DeKalb County officials about changes that need to be made, but they refused, forcing the family to file the lawsuit.

We want to gain notoriety. We fear for other DeKalb County and city of Dunwoody residents, said Ruth Bartlett.

The lawsuit alleges in her last moments Bartlett "experienced unbelievable fright, shock and mental suffering."

Because of what they call their mother's needless death, they're now asking for a third party to review fire rescues emergency practices and procedures, compensation for the wrongful death and payment of legal fees.

That death has demonstrated an appalling break down in the practices and procedures of emergency services in DeKalb County, and it can't just be allowed to be swept under the rug, said attorney Pitts Carr.

Some of the fired firefighters are fighting to get their jobs back, an action this family couldn't handle.

I think it's a slap in the face. I think it's appalling and insulting, said Vann.

We fear that they're all going to get their jobs back and my mother died for nothing, said Ruth Bartlett.

So far, one of the firefighters has been re-instated although DeKalb County is appealing it. Another firefighter is waiting to hear if he'll get his job back too.

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