Fireground Management, Leadership, News

Report Raises Questions About Response to Deadly Sea Isle City (NJ) Fire

Firefighter with his back turned
NJ.com/YouTube

A report from NJ.com has raised questions about the response to a November 2018 fire that left one resident dead.

The Sea Isle City (NJ) Volunteer Fire Department has been in the news recently on account of a number of high-profile fires in the small Jersey Shore town, with a report from the Press of Atlantic City examining how dispatching issues may be impacting fire operations. Additionally, some fire officials in the town were reportedly found to not have state-required certifications.

The new report focused on apparent operational difficulties on the scene of a fire that led to the death of Marie Zielinksi, 89, on November 29 of last year. NJ Advance Media’s review of call logs reportedly show a lack of communication and incomplete accounting of the first two hours of the response.

Details from neighboring Ocean City (NJ) Fire Department, which took command of the fire from Sea Isle volunteers during the incident, suggest a chaotic fire scene. There was no command post where firefighters could receive assignments; there was no accountability officer assigned to keep track of firefighters’ locations; and radio communication between departments was virtually impossible because Sea Isle didn’t have a frequency that could support outside agencies, according to a report from Ocean City Deputy Chief Vito DiMarco. 

The deadly incident brings to mind a separate incident in November 2018 in Polk County, Florida, in which a woman calling from inside a burning home died when fire crews apparently failed to make entry and rescue her.