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On fatal fire tapes: 'no water pressure at all'

"There is no water pressure at all at the scene."

Firefighters battle a five-alarm blaze at the Barclay Friends nursing home in West Chester.
Firefighters battle a five-alarm blaze at the Barclay Friends nursing home in West Chester.Read moreSTEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer

On Nov. 16, a Chester County 911 dispatcher sent firefighters to Barclay Friends nursing home in West Chester at about 10:45 p.m. for "smoke in the building."

The excerpts below are from the taped exchanges between emergency dispatchers and firefighters at the scene.

10:47:21 p.m.: The dispatcher said: "PD is on the scene there with heavy smoke from the west side of the building.

"Multiple calls reported flames from the roof. They have not evacuated yet. Your best access is off of Franklin."

10:47:45 p.m.:  "PD is now advising the entire building is on fire in the rear."

About 90 seconds later: "PD is requesting a second alarm."

10:49:45 p.m.: "Fire crews confirmed report of heavy smoke and heavy fire."

The fire would continue to spread, fueled by fierce winds.

11:39:17 p.m.: "I know this will be tough. One additional alarm please.

". . . Just to give you a quick update. We have heavy fire throughout the structure, still have plenty of unaccounted, all hands working."

A few minutes later there was the first indication water supply was a problem at the scene.

11:43:48 p.m." "Totally losing water pressure here.

". . .Tell them it is a priority of urgency."

At midnight an exchange between crews also indicated a continuing issue with water supply.

"Ok Just as long as we get someone on that hydrant and someone in the relay I think we'll be alright. There is no water pressure at all at the scene."

12:00:40 a.m.: "Let me know if we need to modify we are with the ambulances now."

"No, we are not deviating from Plan A but I also have a problem on the north side with no water, so."

"Ok, I'll meet you as soon as I get all these truck out of the way, the ambulances."

12:10:57 a.m.: "Is there any engines down on Goshen Road at a point available to start laying (garble) toward the hospital."

"Chief, we've got four engines down here. Myself and Chapman and Crawford are working on getting a line from here to Cross Point on the East Side of Route 100 or High Street up to the fire. It's about 2,500 feet."

"There is no water on that side. We need to go towards the hospital. We are with Aqua now."

12:14:26 a.m.: "We need to lay a line to the hospital. The best water is going to be to the rear of the hospital near the helipad. "

At 12:31:34 a.m.: "We need more pressure if you can. We are not really getting anything."

"Alright see what I can do."