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Three fire departments working on communication in wake of firefighter death

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COLBY, WI (WTAQ) - Three small fire departments in central Wisconsin say they’re working more closely, after a federal report cited a lack of communication as one reason a firefighter was killed in March.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health looked into a blaze at the Abby Theater in Abbotsford, in which Colby firefighter Jamison Kampmeier died.

According to the Marshfield News-Herald, the federal agency said there was a lack of communication between the Abbotsford and Colby departments at the scene. And a bowstring construction of the roof – which was weighed down by up to a foot of ice and snow – was also a factor.

The Abby Theater was built in 1948, and officials said codes were changed in the ‘60’s to make the lumber in bowstring roofs stronger.

As for communication, the federal report said the Abby and Colby departments developed generic standard operating guidelines that provided only a small amount of help for ground operations at a major blaze.

Since then, chiefs of both departments said they and the nearby Dorchester Fire Department improved and standardized their emergency procedures.

Among other things, each chief now works in tandem at fire scenes with multiple departments – and the communication is simplified and focused to specific areas of the blaze to cut down on overlapping signals. 

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