Federal Report On Fatal Southwest Inn Fire Makes 15 Recommendations For Fire Departments

More than two years after the Southwest Inn fire that killed four Houston firefighters, a third report on the incident has been released.


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5 alarm fireIn May 2013, four firefighters were killed battling a 5-alarm fire at the Southwest Inn.


The report by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health follows one by the Houston Fire Department and one by the State Fire Marshal last year.

In May 2013, four firefighters were killed battling a fire at the Southwest Inn on the Southwest Freeway.

The report cites several factors that contributed to the tragedy.

“The main issues here are, one, that this fire had evidently been burning for at least three hours prior to the dispatcher sending units to that location,” Alvin White, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, said. “The radio issues again were a big issue there that day.”

The report also mentions the building construction, lack of a sprinkler system, wind impacting the fire and personnel accountability.

Much of it has been discussed in previous reports and the Houston Fire Department has taken steps to address the issues.

But White said not enough has been done.

“I think our men and women need more training on wind-driven fires. And the department really doesn’t have a program that teaches us that,” he said. “It’s a one-hour class that’s given to our members on wind-driven fires. That’s not enough.”

The report makes 15 recommendations for fire departments to avoid a similar tragedy.

Among other points, it says incident commanders should ensure strategy and tactics match the conditions at a fire; fire departments should review procedures on wind-driven fires and develop standard operating procedures and conduct live fire training.

Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison wasn’t available for an interview, but he said in a statement that he is grateful for the report.


CDC Report

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is the News 88.7 business reporter and also covers criminal justice, guns and shootings.Florian's stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of...

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