FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE
Division of State Fire Marshal
Bureau of Fire & Arson Investigations
SFM CASE NUMBER: 26-02-3753
DISPATCH INCIDENT NUMBER: 228086232
On Tuesday, July 30, 2002, at 10:45 hours, the Florida Department of
Law Enforcement (FDLE) Orlando Communications Center contacted my supervisor,
Law Enforcement Lieutenant Charles LaCorte, informing him that two firefighters
in Osceola County had been seriously injured in a fire and were being
transported to the hospital. Lieutenant LaCorte contacted me to start
responding to Osceola County and he would notify me with further details
after he made contact with Osceola County Fire & Rescue Division (OCFRD).
Lieutenant LaCorte received further information from OCFRD Deputy Fire
Marshal, Captain Al Cialella, that two OCFRD firefighters had been transported
to the hospital from injuries suffered at a live-burn training exercise
that was being conducted that morning on the property of the former Florida
Bible College (FBC), located at 1701 South Poinciana Boulevard, Kissimmee,
I continued my response and contacted Captain Cialella by cell phone.
Captain Cialella had arrived on the scene along with Osceola County Sheriff’s
Office (OCSO) deputies who secured the area with a “Police/Fire
Line” barrier tape and initiated a contamination list. Captain Cialella
advised me that both firefighters had died from their injuries. I told
Captain Cialella to insure scene preservation and not allow witnesses
to leave prior to my arrival. I updated Lieutenant LaCorte, who was in
route to the scene at that time. Lieutenant LaCorte and I arrived at the
scene at 12:30 hours on the same date and met with Captain Cialella, along
with OCSO Criminal Investigations Division (CID) Sergeant Jeffrey Barnes
and Detective Kerwin King. OCSO Technical Services Division, Crime Scene
Technicians (CST) Candice King, Mark Gill, Lisa Bowen and Brianne Trupper
were also on the scene.
It was decided that the State Fire Marshal (SFM) Bureau of Fire &
Arson Investigations (BFAI) would be the lead law enforcement agency in
the investigation because of the expertise needed in the examination of
the fire scene, however, the primary goal in the investigation was to
determine all of the circumstances that led to the deaths of two firefighters
that were participating in a fire department training fire. It was agreed
that the SFM investigators would team up with the OCSO detectives to conduct
a joint investigation of all circumstances of the two deaths and to rule-out
any violations to the Florida Statutes including FSS Chapter 782 Homicide.
At that time investigation tasks were assigned. I was designated the lead
investigator who would work with OCSO detectives on witness interviews
and the follow-up investigation. Lieutenant LaCorte was assigned the scene
investigation assisted by Captain Cialella. The Crime Scene Technicians
would assist in photographing, documentation and evidence collection.
The scene was processed which included a general survey of the scene;
close examination of the area of fire origin; and documentation with 35mm
photographs and 8mm video recording. A rough sketch was also made of the
scene. Captain Cialella secured a digital still camera and an 8mm digital
video camera from a witness who was photographing the training exercise
at the time of the incident.
Initial interviews of the participants of the live fire training exercise,
who were members of the Osceola Fire & Rescue Division (OCFRD) and
the Orlando Fire Department (OFD) were conducted at OCFRD Station 21 in
a non-custodial setting. Written witness statements were also obtained
during the initial interviews. The participants and the witnesses were
also informed that they would be contacted later for follow-up interviews.
A compact disk (CD) containing digital image files (still photographs)
captured with the digital camera and the video recording tape of video
footage from the 8mm digital video camera was obtained and a property
receipt was signed by the witness who was photographing during the training
exercise. The digital camera and 8mm digital video camera that had been
secured by Captain Cialella was returned to the witness.
When the initial witness interviews and the scene investigation were
completed, the investigation team met at OCSO West 192 Substation to exchange
information and to plan the following investigative tasks. At the end
of the meeting it was decided that Detective King and I would conduct
the follow-up investigation that would consist of the tasks that included,
a review of the information and evidence acquired from the fire scene
investigation; review of the information obtained from the initial interviews
of participants and witnesses of the training exercise; meet with the
Medical Examiner’s Office (pathologists & investigators), witness
the post-mortem examination and obtain preliminary pathology findings;
submit samples of victims tissue and clothing to SFM Laboratory for analysis
to determine the presence of flammable materials and obtain analysis results;
obtain recordings of OCFRD radio transmissions that were made during the
training exercise to be enhanced for clarity; and conduct follow-up interviews
of participants and witnesses of the training exercise. SFM Major J. Ron
McCardle also assisted in obtaining more detailed measurements from the
fire scene for analysis, which are reflected in the diagrams he produced
and in his Supplement Report #3.
SFM and OCSO continued an active joint follow-up investigation until
August 9, 2002, when OCSO ended their involvement with the investigation
(See OCSO Case #02I053877). I continued with the remaining task of the
investigation involving the follow-up interviews of the participants and
witnesses of the training exercise. I was assisted by SFM Investigator
Greg Kunkle during the follow-up interviews (See Inv. Kunkle’s Report
Abstract of Lt. LaCorte’s Supplement Report #2
The incident occurred in unincorporated (Poinciana) area of south Osceola
County, Florida. The scene is located within the former Florida Bible
College campus situated on the southwest corner of the intersection of
Poinciana Boulevard and U.S. Route 17-92 (OCPA Parcel ID# 25-26-28-6180-000H-0010).
There are several buildings on the property that were scheduled for demolition
that had been contracted by OCFRD to be used for fire training exercises.
This incident involved a 1,462 square foot single-story ordinary concrete
block construction, vacant residential/single-family dwelling.
A more detailed description of the fire scene and structure are given
in Lieutenant LaCorte’s scene description and fire scene investigation
(Supplement Report #2) and Major McCardle’s report on the exterior
and interior dimensions of the structure (Supplement Report #3).
FIRE SCENE INVESTIGATION
Abstract of Lt. LaCorte’s Supplement Report #2
Fire tracking of burn patterns and depth of char indicated that the area
of origin was the closet in the northeast bedroom of the structure. Evidence
found in the scene examination determined that materials consisting of
wooden pallets, hay and a foam mattress were used to fuel a fire in a
fire training exercise. Close examination of the room of origin displayed
evidence that a flashover occurred during the exercise. Evidence was documented
with photographs and collected from the scene.
A more detailed description of the “Fire Scene Investigation”
is found in Lieutenant LaCorte’s Supplement Report #2.
continue reading—Florida State Fire Marshal Report, Follow-up Investigation