Lancaster releases independent report into deadly E. Madison St. fire

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The Lancaster Bureau of Fire is re-evaluating its procedures after an independent report into a deadly house fire in February.

The February 18 early morning fire at 225 E. Madison Street killed Pauline Stone and Leilani Roman, 6, and injured three firefighters, one of them critically.

The tragic fire left many asking what could have been done better to possibly save lives and protect firefighters.

A 32-page report is the result of months of investigating by two retired, independent veteran firefighters the city hired to look into it.

The two men collected firefighter interviews, dispatch and radio recordings and fire bureau records to come up with the report.

It points out 22 issues and offers recommendations to fix them. Some of the issues included communication breakdowns, firefighters failing to properly assess the risks to themselves before taking action and the need for more training across the board.

“It confirmed some of the things that we understood occurred during the fire that there were some mistakes made and there were some things that we can do better and when I say we, I mean both the firefighters and also the administration,” said Rick Gray, Lancaster Mayor.

Kevin Ressler, IAFF Local 319 president, said he’s focusing on the positives of the report, which at first, wasn’t easy for him to do.

“No one like to hear bad things, but that went away pretty quick, it was then, ‘What can we do to better this situation?'” Ressler said.

Ressler said city firefighters would welcome more training.

“You’re always learning, training, trying new things,” he said. “So if you keep that in mind, it’s not that hard to put it in perspective and say, ‘Use this as a tool to get better.'”

The study cost $15,000 and came out of the fire bureau’s budget. You can read the full report here.

Mayor Gray is forming a committee of firefighters and city administrators to review the report together and see how and when they can implement each recommendation.

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