Family Of DeKalb County Fire Victim Files Lawsuit

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DUNWOODY, Ga. - The family of a Dunwoody woman who died after a failed 911 response, is now suing DeKalb county. Ann Bartlett died in January after calling 911 to report her home was on fire. According to investigators, she gave her correct address, but firefighters said didn't see any smoke or fire and left. They were forced to return five hours later when neighbors reported raging flames.

Bartlett's family told Channel 2 investigative reporter, Jodie Fleischer, the failure of the emergency response system was bad enough, but the county has since done nothing to fix the problems.

Bartlett's daughter, Ruth, said, "how many more calls or deaths have to happen before they will change something? We would hate for anyone else to have to go through this."

WEB EXTRA: DeKalb Fire Lawsuit PDF

The lawsuit asks a judge to issue an injunction, demanding the county submit to a third party review of its 911 response system. The county did fire five firefighters and force the chief to resign. But there has been no clarification of the policy requiring a 360-degree search of a home, or requirement that firefighters get out of the truck and look around. Firefighters said the 911 center did not pass along enough information from Bartlett's call. There have been no changes within the 911 center either.

"There were probably four, five, maybe six different junctures that this went wrong and had any one of those circled back it's highly possible my mother would still be alive." Ruth said her 74-year-old mother was still active and vibrant, and that her three daughters and four grandchildren miss her dearly. She said there's no way to put a dollar amount on what her mother meant to the family. They said they simply want the county to do better.

"It would upset her knowing she died for no reason and they don't change some policies and procedures," Ruth said.

A county spokesperson refused to comment about why there have been no policy changes, saying county policy prohibits commenting on issues under litigation.

Ruth said she would rather have avoided a lawsuit and worked out the details in mediation, but the county rejected that offer.


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