Report Blames Fire Company in Death of N.J. Firefighter

The burns that killed James Heenan were caused by steam created by the steady stream of water directed on him, to protect him, by fellow Verga firefighters


WEST DEPTFORD TWP. -- The burns that killed James Heenan were caused by steam created by the steady stream of water directed on him, to protect him, by fellow Verga firefighters.

Three things, according to a state investigation report, contributed to Heenan's death: the steady stream of water, which pushed the fire and super-heated gases back down on Heenan; a failure to use the proper equipment, especially a thermal imaging camera and hand tools to sound the floor's stability; and the incident commander's improper analysis of the fire conditions, leading him to send Heenan and Firefighter James Miller into the house directly over where the fire was burning in the basement.

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