ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCBD) – The Citadel Beach House is under repair, after a fire in the early hours of May 8th destroyed it. The call for that fire did not come in to 911 until after the flames were already through the roof and Isle of Palms Fire Department could not handle it on their own.
A woman yells, “4700 Palm Boulevard! It’s a huge fire!”
That’s one of the calls that came into 911 that night from one of the people who was inside the Citadel Beach House. Because the fire was so involved, IOP asked for backup before they even arrived.
Over the radio, you hear a firefighter say, “Go ahead and send the two units from Mt. Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island to the Citadel Beach House please.”
But it took nine minutes from that request to even notify backup.
Isle of Palms Fire Chief Ann Graham says, “I cannot predict how much more of the building would’ve been saved in that nine minutes, but I can say it delayed our interior attack, and it delayed a second hydrant, and it did delay additional equipment and manpower.”
The Director of Charleston County Consolidated 911 Center, James Lake, says part of the problem is IOP does not share resources, so it takes more steps to send back up.
Lake says, “What we have to do is actually, we have to look at a list and see who is available, who is closest, and type that information into the CAD to get that number to dispatch.”
Chief Graham says they don’t share because some of their calls require specific training and they prefer to handle them within the department.
She says, “We do a lot of water rescue calls that a lot of people in the county are not familiar with. If we relied on resource sharing, there would be a higher likelihood of someone from another department coming over and being ill equipped to deal with what we deal with on a regular basis.”
But even without resource sharing dispatch admits nine minutes is far too long, and it was a hole in standard operating procedures.
Lake says, “We had not instructed our staff correctly on how to do that procedure. We believe it was covered in trainng, but since it wasn’t in the SOP’s outline, I can’t say for sure that it was. Because of that, and because Mt Pleasant had several engines out of service that night, it was hard to find the closest one so it took a little bit longer.”
Dispatch tells News 2 since this fire, their staff has been trained on the process for handling calls like this one and they are confident it should not take more than one minute to dispatch backup to IOP in the future.