James Williams, Fire Captain who took video instead of conducting search, resigns

Polk County Fire and Rescue has been in your news feeds lately because of the tragic, and I'll argue preventable, death of 76 year old Loretta Pickard.  You remember, the woman who was on the line with 911 operators as her home burned and Former Captain Williams (not pictured here) and his crew was outside?

Turns out he resigned on March 12th, the investigation into his wrongdoings taking a sideways turn for the curious.

Polk County had a number of problems with this fire, starting with the lack of search with known trapped occupant.  Sure they poked around outside, but many stories state they were unable to find "the front door" and make entry.  Stories later pointed out that crews on the scene were not wearing SCBA.  Hard to force a door and do a primary without air.

Others shouted about the NFPA's "2 in 2 out" policy.

This was bad enough and should have resulted in an investigation that likely would have led to demotion, suspension or both.  Termination?  Depends on the findings I'd argue.

Instead, Polk County has recently completed an investigation into what Williams was doing outside instead of searching, which was taking some home video of the incident and sharing it.  I mean, who in the Fire Service gets a report of occupants trapped from 911 who has the caller on the line and hasn't pulled their phone out to grab a few pics and a short video?

Who even has their phone accessible at fires?

The resignation letter comes before the investigation findings can be converted to discipline and wreaks if you ask me.  Read it for yourself (and the complete investigation Polk County made public) over at Statter911.
My favorite excerpt:

"I have made a few mistakes along the way but none that have ever put a patient's life or well being in jeopardy."

blink. blink.

The rest of the letter is about stress.  I can't speak to this since I am not aware of a time when I took video at a fire while a woman burned alive inside.  I'd put a letter in your file but we shredded it the moment your resignation came in.

Williams takes the "woe is me" route instead of facing the truth, blames the media for asking what happened, playing the tape, then asking why, and eventually quits telling his co-workers there "is light at the end of the tunnel."  Indeed there is.  Not for you or Loretta, but perhaps for us and her family.

Let's finish on a positive note here, if we can.  Fire Captain failed at the scene.  Fire Chief later failed trying to defend Fire Captain at press conference.  County publishes investigation findings.  There's your positive, folks.  An agency that finally realizes the only way to make sure this doesn't happen again is to air their dirty laundry now instead of the old "It's a personnel matter" and declining to address the facts.

Also, the family's response to this is amazing.  They want him to "have a little nest egg so he can go and find a job he is more suited for."

Took the words right out of my mouth.