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July 23, 2015

Badly burned firefighter, 16, remains in D.C. hospital

Fire engines from The Plains and Marshall reached the scene first Sunday morning.
Photo/Lawrence Emerson
The 1-1/2-story stucco house’s solid construction intensified the heat as two firefighters started up the stairs.
It’s gonna be important to talk about all these issues. There are lots of moving parts.
— Warrenton Volunteer Fire Chief Sam Myers on the investigation
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Contributing Journalist
Updated with statement from firefighter’s father at 10 p.m. Thursday.

A 16-year-old Marshall volunteer firefighter underwent seven hours of surgery and skin grafts Wednesday to treat burns suffered Sunday morning.

Adam Glaze remains in the Washington MedStar Hospital Center, where county career and volunteer firefighters have gathered to offer support.

A rising Fauquier High School junior, Mr. Glaze suffered the most severe burns among three firemen injured as they attacked an intense blaze at 4214 Pickett St. in The Plains on Sunday morning.

Two older colleagues — one from the county career staff and one from the Warrenton Volunteer Fire Co. — received treatment at Fauquier Hospital, according to county officials.

The 1-1/2-story stucco home became a blast furnace as the young volunteer — fighting his first fire — headed upstairs with a 1-3/4-inch hose.

The career firefighter followed closely behind him.

Both wore gear rated to withstand prolonged exposure to temperatures up to 500 degrees and about 10 seconds up to 1,500 degrees “during a backdraft or flashover,” according to Fauquier County Fire Chief Billington.

Command of the fire scene and communication among units — from Fauquier and Loudoun counties — have come into question. Fire trucks jammed the cramped neighborhood with its narrow streets.

At some point, a battalion chief from Loudoun took command of the scene, relieving a local volunteer, according to several sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of ongoing investigations.

“That’s not unusual,” Chief Billington said of the command change. “Whoever’s on the scene first takes command. But, as other units arrive, it often changes.”

The county fire department has launched an investigation of the circumstances that led to the injuries.

The local firefighters’ union — representing 56 career staff members — on Wednesday issued a letter that calls on the county board of supervisors to fund more paid positions. The union also wants a “unified rank structure” that would clarify authority at every incident.

> Letter embedded at bottom of story.

“There is a rank structure in Fauquier County, but it’s different from volunteer company to volunteer company and from volunteer company to DFREM (Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management),” Chief Billington said.

One fire engine each from The Plains and Marshall reached the house first after the 8:47 a.m. alarm Sunday, Chief Billington said. The initial response included seven career and volunteer firefighters.

Charles Glaze, the badly injured volunteer’s father, works as a career firefighter in Washington, D.C. Mr. Glaze has praised the training his son has received in Fauquier, according to Chief Billington and local fire officials.

But, a county ordinance that allows minors to enter burning structures will undergo review, Chief Billington said.

“It’s an issue for me,” he said. “Is it a good idea? I don’t know.”

The Virginia Administrative Code says: “Minors 16 and 17 years of age shall not enter a burning structure.”

But, the code provides exceptions for local governments that adopt ordinances allowing minors — with proper training — to fight fires.

Adam Glaze’s training exceeds minimum standards, Chief Billington said. A student in the FHS fire science program, he repeatedly has undergone training in the county’s “burn building” near the landfill just south of Warrenton.

Mr. Glaze on Thursday evening issued a statement, distributed by the county firefighters’ union.

He told members “he was extremely supportive and confident when he signed the release for his son to act as an interior firefighter.”

Mr. Glaze continued: “If anyone wants to address policies, that’s a separate issue, but the training provided by the county high school program to certify my son as a firefighter provided him the ability to survive a situation that could have been fatal. The extremely qualified instructors ensured my son’s survival.”

> Press released embedded below.

A four-member team will investigate the circumstances that led to the injuries in The Plains:

• Fauquier Assistant Chief Darren Stevens.

• Catlett Volunteer Fire Chief Kalvyn Smith.

• Virginia Department of Fire Programs Division Chief John Fugman.

• Chief Richard “Dickie” Mabie of Warren County.

That internal investigation report could be ready “in two or three weeks,” said Chief Billington, who pledged that it would be available to the public.

The Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Administration also will conduct an investigation.

“It’s gonna be important to talk about all these issues,” Warrenton Volunteer Fire Chief Sam Myers said. “There are lots of moving parts.”

Meanwhile, a regional brotherhood of firefighters surrounds the Glazer family, Chief Myers added.

“It’s incredible what they do with the D.C. Firefighters Burn Foundation,” he explained. “Volunteer, career, it doesn’t matter. They provide housing, meals, support, whatever . . . . It’s basically the D.C. fire department that supports it.”

This story has been updated to correctly identify the Virginia Administrative Code as the source of regulations for firefighters younger than 18.

Thursday evening press release from firefighters’ union

Scan_20150723 by Fauquier Now

Wednesday letter to county supervisors

Ff Injury Request by Fauquier Now

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