New report reveals details, recommendations about Southwest Inn Fire

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - After more than year, a new report has been released about the massive Southwest Inn fire that took the lives of four Houston firefighters and how the department is hoping to prevent another tragedy.


On May 31, 2013, four HFD firefighters -- Matthew Renaud, Robert Bebee, Robert Garner and Anne Sullivan -- were killed in a massive blaze at the Southwest Inn off Highway 59. Thirteen other firefighters were injured in the fire.

In the report released Monday, a 20-member committee said wind was a factor in fanning the fire and the roof collapsed because of the flames.

All four deceased firefighters were located in the front of the building close to the entry door, according to the report.

The report says the HFD radio system was a huge problem.

Recommendations include more training on how to fight fires involving plastic materials, less on wood and cotton (modern materials are more plastic-based), and equipping more apparatus with foam because of more plastic.

Another recommendation is for HFD do a better job of forecasting what equipment will be needed on potential lengthy and complex fires, as well as better organization of incident command and to keep a "clear access lane" for specialized firefighting equipment.

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