Officials pan probe faulting firefighters

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An internal fight is smoldering at the Fire Department, where the union representing high-ranking employees has criticized a report that faults firefighters for 10 injuries at a Union Square blaze.

The San Francisco Fire Chiefs Association said the report was “disjointed, incomplete and misleading,” Battalion Chief Kevin Burke and three others wrote in a letter to the Fire Commission. “The consequences of the report in its current form include: mistrust, reduced morale and reluctance to participate in future safety investigations.”

The smoky, two-alarm fire in the 11-story Tiffany Building at 360 Post St., right on Union Square, started about 6:53 p.m. Oct. 14. About 100 firefighters responded and found heavy smoke throughout the building. The fire was finally discovered in a utility closet in the basement.

An incident report from the Fire Department faults its firefighters for not wearing their breathing units and fragmenting into several confused groups. The original engine on the scene actually went to the wrong building, and when firefighters entered, they failed to check the lowest floor for flames — standard practice in a high-rise fire. Ten firefighters suffered from smoke inhalation.

Burke, the president of the association, called for the report to be removed from the record and for the formulation of a new investigative team to provide another report. The association also called for a better policy for the investigation of future incidents.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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