Updated: Saturday, 23 Apr 2011, 1:01 PM MDT
Published : Friday, 22 Apr 2011, 7:17 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The Albuquerque Fire Department admits it made some mistakes while battling a blaze that wiped out a large apartment building.
Those mistakes almost got four firefighters seriously hurt, now more than two months later AFD is turning its missteps at the Royal Crown Apartment fire into a training tool.
On February 4, 2010 a fire broke out at the building on Gibson near San Mateo. Investigators believe the blaze started in the second floor laundry room.
Firefighters say from the moment they got on scene it was hectic.
“We were behind the incident, it was moving fast and we were constantly trying to catch up with the incident we never got ahead of it,” said Deputy Chief David Downey.
Deputy Chief Downey said that coupled with issues with the departments communication system led to firefighter Nik Gallagher falling through a floor and three others through a balcony, all four were OK.
“It was amazing that they didn’t die under the circumstances,” firefighter Max Heyman said.
AFD said those four firefighters may have been so involved in what they were doing that they did not hear the radio chatter warning that that part of the building had become unsafe.
“This is a little bit of humility for me, we made some mistakes at this fire,” Deputy Chief Downey said.
For the last month the department’s been holding training classes at the fire academy to explain what went wrong at the fire.
Deputy Chief Downey said at certain points they did not know where everyone was and there was confusion about how many firefighters were in distress and who they were.
They’re hoping this training can help them avoid the same mishaps next time.
Firefighters said these ‘post-mortems’ can be a matter of life and death.
“You have to learn from it or otherwise people die,” Heyman said.
Deputy Chief Downey said this fire prompted a change in the emergency communication system.
Now a tone sounds on their radios alerting all firefighters at the scene they need to listen to what’s about to come across.
They also got training on how to use their radios effectively to let everyone know if they are in trouble.
The training also touched on what went right at the fire, the Deputy Chief said there was a lot that did, including the successful rescue or aid in getting 30 people out of the apartment building.
The cause of the Royal Crown fire is still undetermined.