CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Acting State Fire Marshal Tony Carrico plans to initiate an investigation into the Summit Park Volunteer Fire Department in Harrison County.
Carrico said the formal complaint will be filed after he gathers all of the pertinent facts which involved the company’s response to the collapse of two cell phone towers in Harrison County Feb. 1.
Some of the complaints have come from the family of late firefighter Michael Garrett who was a member of the Nutter Fort Volunteer Fire Department. Garrett was killed when a second tower collapsed after emergency crews arrived at the scene.
“I think a lot of the complaints may be based on decisions on actions or inactions on the actual fire ground scene,” Carrico told MetroNews Monday.
The accident was within the Summit Park’s service territory. The Nutter Fort Volunteer Fire Department responded as part of a mutual assist.
Carrico said while the Fire Commission plans to investigate the complains, they are limited in what they can actually look at with their probe.
“We are going to look at those things as mandated by the legislative rule for volunteer fire departments,” said Carrico. “We’re going to look at their training and their equipment.”
Carrico said the complaints about decisions made at the scene by the lead fire company personnel may not be in their jurisdiction.
The Summit Park Volunteer Fire Department has been in this position before. The State Fire Commission has reviewed the department previously, but Carrico said they’ll take a second evaluation after the complaint is formally filed.
“We have been involved with Summit Park for some time now and I can’t say definitely if they are in violation with their equipment or their training,” he said. “We’re just going to have to go back and find out.”
Whatever other areas the Fire Commission uncovers may require other resources. Harrison County Prosecutor Joe Shaffer told the Clarksburg Exponent he intended to let the Fire Marshal’s Office take the lead and follow up afterward on any criminal evidence.
“They are the entity that establishes first-due areas for fire departments,” Shaffer told the newspaper. “They also determine the propriety of an entity being able to operate as a fire department, so I think we need to wait and see what they do first.”
Carrico said he had learned over the weekend the Summit Park Volunteer Fire Department had voluntarily ceased answering emergency calls pending the investigation.