Leon Valley to upgrade radio communications after fatal fire

LVFD chief addresses department's response before city council members

LEON VALLEY, Texas – Leon Valley Fire Chief Luis Valdez said a review of his department's response to a fatal apartment fire in early July revealed that the city should upgrade its radio equipment to better communicate with the city's mutual aid partners.

The Forest Oaks Apartments caught fire early on the morning of July 5 along the 6300 block of Evers Road. The fire resulted in the death of Chanelle Reyes, 31.

A KSAT 12 Defenders investigation revealed that LVFD did not dispatch its own ambulance to the scene of the fire, despite 911 callers reporting the woman's burns.

Valdez has said repeatedly that the staff of 6 firefighters on duty that morning was not enough to fully equip an engine, ladder truck and ambulance.

Instead, firefighters arrived on scene and minutes later requested an ambulance from private EMS service, Acadian.

Reviews of radio transmissions show it took the lone dispatcher on duty more than 9 more minutes to request that ambulance.

After the review, Valdez maintains that one dispatcher and 6 firefighters on duty is enough for Leon Valley.

He believes the city should, however, upgrade its radio systems to be able to communicate directly and remotely with Leon Valley's mutual aid partners.

Currently, officers on scene must radio to a Leon Valley dispatcher if they want to contact surrounding agencies. The dispatcher must then call those agencies from a land line telephone.

"Improvement in our radio system would allow us to talk to our mutual aid partners directly. More efficiently," Valdez said. "Any improvement in communication is going to be better."

Valdez added that he does not believe better radio equipment would have changed the department's response to the July 5 fire.

Both Chief Valdez and Police Chief Randall Wallace conducted the review of their own departments' responses.

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