DC fire chief responds to accusations in fatal Metro smoke incident

WASHINGTON — D.C. Fire and EMS Chief Gregory Dean says he disagrees with a Metro court filing that said his department was solely responsible for rescuing passengers during the 2015 fatal smoke incident near L’Enfant Plaza.

“That was their opinion, we have our opinion,” said Dean. “We think we have a great fire department, we think our people are well trained.”

Passenger Carol Glover was aboard a Yellow Line train that was stranded as smoke continued to build in the tunnel. She died.

“As a result of D.C. (Fire’s) utter disregard for its duties in responding to such emergencies, Metrorail passengers experienced injuries that were more severe than they otherwise would have been and the event ended in tragedy,” wrote Metro, in a court filing in the lawsuit filed by Glover’s family.

Dean declined to speak specifically about the allegations in the court filing, but said his department has already made improvements.

“On a weekly basis our fire marshal’s office goes through the tunnels to make sure the communications are working,” said Dean.

In addition, the fire department now has a 24-hour person at the rail operations center, who is able to communicate directly with fire personnel.

Dean said he is meeting regularly with Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik, and the agencies continue to train together to deal with future emergencies.

“We both realize we need each other,” said Dean. “We need to work together.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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