Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fire Dispatcher Logs Investigated; 2 Department Employees Are on Leave Following Ponte Vedra Blaze

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fire Dispatcher Logs Investigated; 2 Department Employees Are on Leave Following Ponte Vedra Blaze

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Patterson

An investigation of a Ponte Vedra Beach condominium fire that burned more than 45 minutes before firefighters acknowledged it includes a review of dispatcher actions, records released by St. Johns County officials indicate.

At least one dispatcher's name was removed in dozens of places from communication logs that county attorneys released this week in response to a public records request about the fire Monday at the Belleza at Ponte Vedra complex, where 911 calls repeatedly reported smoke.

Some removals were done because of a state law that bans releasing names of agency employees under investigation for misconduct, David Migut, the senior assistant county attorney, said by email.

Two fire employees are on leave while the review unfolds, but a fire spokesman, Jeremy Robshaw, wouldn't say whether both were dispatchers.

The records released by county attorneys offer some of the first, limited insight into events before dawn that day, when a 20-unit building was ravaged by flames that were first reported just after 4 a.m.

After noting that a fire engine was sent at 4:08 a.m. to the Belleza, west of Florida A1A off Ponte Vedra Lakes Boulevard, the logs showed the call was written off as "unfounded" at 4:15 a.m. and the engine's run was canceled two seconds later.

But at 6:30 a.m., another entry about the same event was added.

The engine "was not canceled," it said. "They did not adv[ise] o[n] s[cene], they only adv[ised] nothing found and avail[able]."

Robshaw said the reference to canceling the call was caused by a dispatcher accidentally entering a single keystroke automated to log a cancellation. He said the log was reviewed before a shift change and updated to set the record straight.

Forty-eight minutes after the initial response was scrubbed, the crew of Engine 10, assigned to a Ponte Vedra firehouse two miles from Belleza, had returned and at 5:03 a. …

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