State Releases West Firefighter Fatality Investigation

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WEST (May 15, 2014) The State Fire Marshal’s Office released their firefighter fatality investigation surrounding the 12 first responders whose lives were claimed by the West explosion in April of 2013.

(File photo)

The report is similar to any investigation that’s conducted when a firefighter or first responder dies.

The report is lengthy but ultimately reveals critiques about the response to the fire that sparked the blast.

Federal investigators have already said the West explosion could have been prevented if better ammonium nitrate storage practices were in place at the West Fertilizer Co.

Those investigators have also highlighted that first responders weren’t aware of the explosive dangers before responding to the fire at the plant.

The fatality investigation echoes a similar tale, citing that West VFD was not trained or equipped to handle a situation so complex and that neither West nor McLennan County had adopted fire or building codes to enforce proper ammonium nitrate storage practices.

For Carmen Bridges, the report doesn’t digest easily. Her husband, Morris Bridges was one of the West Volunteer Firemen who died during the blast.

Carmen and about two dozen other family members related to the fallen heard of the findings first this afternoon at the First Baptist Church in West.

Reform regarding training and better AN regulations on the state and local level is what she’d like to see, and hopes the investigation helps prevent future loss of life.

"It's hard because my husband walked out the door for a fire call and never came back," Bridges said.

"It’s sad and hurtful that they went in there not knowing what they were going into."