Report blames department’s ‘culture and systems’ for 2021 death of Frederick Co. firefighter

Frederick County’s fire department has been blamed for costly mistakes that led to the death of a firefighter in Maryland last year, according to an after-action report.

The report, released Friday, looked into details around the death of Captain Joshua Laird and found a serious lack of change within the department, blaming “culture and systems” for his death.



“With this report, the [External Safety Review Panel] is trying to find the missing link by shining a light on the human element by identifying how our culture of ignorance, arrogance, and resistance to change builds a normalization of deviance that eventually opens the door for a catastrophic event,” the report said.

The report looks back at a house fire that happened last August in Ijamsville along Ball Road.

It points out several serious concerns, including a lack of knowledge among the fire crew about how long the fire had been burning. Laird was not instructed to leave the house due to a lack of water supply to fight the fire, the report said, which is an order that should’ve come from the operations assistant chief.

Laird fell through the floor and was still conscious when he called for help.

The report points to a lack of coordination and crew integrity during rescue efforts. He was eventually taken to a hospital, but later died.

His last communication was “Hey guys, tell my family I love them.”

Laird was posthumously promoted to Battalion Chief.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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