SAFD employees to tour charred building where firefighter died, 2 others injured

Chief Charles Hood says tour will provide closure, learning opportunities

By David Ibanez - Web - Managing Editor

SAN ANTONIO - Firefighters and civilian employees of the San Antonio Fire Department will tour Ingram Park Square, the building where a four-alarm blaze killed one firefighter and injured two others, Fire Chief Charles Hood said Tuesday at a news conference.

Hood said the walk through the building by 2,000 SAFD employees will help provide closure and learning opportunities for his department, which he said is still recovering from the May 18 blaze that claimed the life of Scott Deem and left Brad Phipps and Robert Vasquez injured.

Related: Images show aftermath at Ingram Square 1 month after fatal 4-alarm fire

"To have an opportunity to walk through this building before it's torn down, it's priceless for us to have this opportunity," Hood said. "It's a chance for us to walk through this building in a state that the members can see exactly what something like this looks like."

Hood said the walkthroughs will happen in the next week or so and will include a tour of the gym and a computer store that suffered the most damage. He said before and after pictures of the building will be placed on easels throughout the buildings.

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No one will be allowed to take pictures inside the building, Hood said.

"The main thing to understand is that this job is extremely dangerous. We take risks every day. But the job became real in a way that none of us have ever seen in this generation. We have to continue to capture that realism," he said.

Hood said that the investigation is ongoing and gave no timetable when the probe would be concluded. He said when the report is complete, Deem's widow and Phipps' wife will be the among the first to review the findings.

Related: In the wake of Scott Deem tragedy, Fire Station 35 gives thanks to San Antonio

A cause of death for Deem has not been released, he said.

Hood said Phipps remains in critical but stable condition and his breathing tube was removed recently.

He visited with Phipps two days ago.

"I was able to walk in and tell him that I was very proud of him. We were able to share some communication that was very uplifting for us. Uplifting for our staff, and should be uplifting for the community in that he is improving," Hood said.

Hood said he and Phipps didn't talk about the fire and asked for continued prayers for Phipps, his family, the Deem family and the Fire Department. 

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