N.C. FD Makes Changes One Year After Captain's Death

The Asheville Fire Department plans to add more commanders at major incidents after an office building blaze that killed a firefighter one year ago.

Capt. Jeff Bowen was overcome by heat and smoke during an arson fire at the five-story building at 445 Biltmore Avenue on July 28, 2011 and later died at the hospital.

Fire Chief Scott Burnette told The Asheville Citizen-Times that the additional commanders would come from an overhaul at the West Asheville Fire Station, that will reduce staffing from two three-person crews to one four-person crew.

He said that the change will not lengthen arrival times and actually makes the station more efficient.

The new staffing configuration will be tracked to make sure there is no decrease in service

The changes were decided on after an internal review that will be released next month.

In all, 17 groups, which were comprised of firefighters who volunteered for the project, examined the response to the fire that will Bowen and found 150 area in need of improvement

Burnette said that the ratio of commanders to firefighters that day was too low and that the changes would have made operations safer.