D.C. fire officials are reviewing their department's response to a Saturday night fire at a two-story row house in Northwest in which an unidentified woman died, a fire department spokesman said last night.
Capt. Ted Holmes, fire department spokesman, said the review is to determine whether "there were any glitches" that may have prevented the woman from being saved.
A news report on television station WUSA (Channel 9) said last night that some firefighters had complained that dispatching problems delayed arrival of fire engines at the fire in the 400 block of Florida Avenue NW.
Holmes said that at 9:56 p.m., a fire at 408 Florida Avenue NE was reported to dispatchers. The closest units available from three fire stations were sent there, Holmes said.
A few minutes later, he said, dispatchers received reports of a fire in the 400 block of Florida Avenue NW, more than a mile away, and a second contingent of firefighters was sent to that location.
The first engine company to arrive at the fire is housed in the 2600 block of Sherman Avenue NW, Holmes said. That company's station is about four-fifths of a mile from the scene. At least one station is closer, but Holmes said its firefighters already had been sent to the Northeast location.
Holmes said that after firefighters on a call find no fire immediately evident, they are expected to spend several minutes making certain that none exists. They are not reassigned before reporting themselves available, he said.
Firefighters arrived at the burning house about 10 minutes after being dispatched, Holmes said. He said they found the front door barred by a locked steel grate, and took hoses inside through windows.
The woman's body was found within a few feet of the front door, Holmes said. Fire officials say two men escaped through a back door. Officials said the house was unoccupied, and apparently was being used by the victim and others to escape freezing temperatures.