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Fire Chief's Association will not conduct review after Polk woman dies in house fire

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Posted at 5:37 PM, Feb 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-15 17:42:10-05

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Fire Chief's Association now says it will not conduct a review of the fire that led to the death of Loretta Pickard in November.

The association initially said it would conduct a review, but now says an independent peer review is 'outside their scope.'

The announcement comes one day after an ABC Action News story revealed that the family wanted justice.

Polk County woman dies in fire, family claims more could have been done to save her

According to Pickard's family, firefighters didn't try to save thier aunt.

During a 20 minute phone call, the woman told dispatchers that in order to leave her home, she would have to stand up and use her walker. Pickard was recovering from a recent hip surgery. In the call, the dispatcher told Pickard to not hang up.

“Recent media reports and public comments concerning the tragic and heartbreaking death of Mrs. Pickard in that November house fire have raised many serious concerns and allegations. Many of the allegations and comments have been based on incomplete information, speculation and innuendo by individuals who were not on the fire scene and/or have neither the technical expertise nor fire command experience to reach their conclusions.”
Polk County Manager Jim Freeman

An agreement with the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association was made Thursday and will include the review of all facets of the emergency response to the tragic fire to include evaluating standard operating guidelines, training requirements, response guidelines, or any other appropriate topic. The Association has agreed to conduct the review at no charge to the county.

“I fully support this decision to hire the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association to conduct a comprehensive and transparent review to this tragic incident. Every day our firefighters face difficult and complex situations. Independent reviews like these help us, as an organization, provide the best possible service to our residents.”
Polk Commission Chairman George Lindsey