A new federal report on last year’s hillside house fire in Diamond Heights that killed two firefighters noted the steep landscape, ineffective analysis of the situation and poor communication among responders as contributing factors to the fatalities.
The June 2, 2011, fire at 133 Berkeley Way killed Lt. Vincent Perez, 48, and firefighter-paramedic Anthony Valerio, 53. The Fire Department had determined the cause of the blaze to be accidental.
Perez and Valerio died while searching the home for the fire, which was in a room below them and burst up into the stairwell where they were located.
The report, from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, said an adequate assessment of the home, including where exactly the fire was located, should have been done before any firefighters entered. It also said that when incident commanders fail to get a radio response from firefighters, they must immediately assume “a worst-case scenario.”
The Fire Department’s own investigation, completed in February, expressed concern about the firefighters’ handheld radios, saying the excessive heat appeared to have caused them to fail. It issued several recommendations, including quicker response to locate firefighters who do not answer radio calls.
The department said at the time that it was already implementing its recommendations.