Widow of Dallas Firefighter Fights for More Changes

Changes are coming to Dallas Fire-Rescue, but the widow of a fallen Dallas firefighter says that's not enough, and she will continue to fight for more.

Jenny Wilson told NBC 5 she is concerned over her impressions of a phone conversation with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings Tuesday.

“I told the mayor that I’m not going away, and that’s what I’m pushing for,” she said, shortly after her talk with Rawlings.

Wilson said Rawlings called her to personally follow up on her recent demands for changes within Dallas Fire-Rescue, nearly two years after her husband’s death.

Firefighter Stanley Wilson was killed in May 2013 when an apartment building collapsed on top of him.

Stanley Wilson and others had reportedly been ordered back into the Hearthwood Condominiums apartments to search the scene of a six-alarm fire, in the 12000 block of Abrams Road, by the on-scene commander.

That decision was criticized by three separate, independent investigations into Stanley Wilson’s line-of-duty death.

Among the concerns listed by investigators from the State Fire Marshal and Dallas Fire-Rescue were that commanders failed to adequately supervise personnel, failed to conduct proper risk assessment and failed to make proper decisions about how to fight the fire, in addition to communications mistakes and confusion between commanders and firefighters.

Jenny Wilson and others have since called for changes within the department – chief among them that Dallas Fire-Rescue record the audio of all fire ground communication.

“It’s important to me because, to me, it holds the people at the fire scene accountable for their actions,” Jenny Wilson told NBC 5. “It can also be used as a training tool to say, ‘This is what we did right,’ or, ‘This is what we didn’t do so well, this is what we need to change.’ But to have absolutely no recording of what goes on on a fire ground, during a major fire, is irresponsible.”

Jenny Wilson said her impression of Mayor Rawlings’ message – based upon his conversation with fire department leadership – was that the possibility of recording firefighter communications was not in the cards for the immediate future.

The mayor’s chief of policy and communications, Scott Goldstein, offered a different impression of that same conversation late Tuesday. He said in a statement:

The mayor was briefed this morning by Dallas Fire-Rescue Chief Louie Bright and City Manager A.C. Gonzalez on the status of any changes being made following the investigations into Stanley Wilson’s death. DFR officials assured the mayor that they are pursuing a variety of training, communications and procedural improvements as a direct result of the findings of the three investigations into Stan's death.

This afternoon, the mayor called and spoke with Jenny Wilson. He shared what he had learned, including that DFR officials are developing fire ground recording capability. He vowed that he would continue to press for that change and that he will do everything in his power to ensure that Stanley Wilson’s death will not be in vain.

For her part, Jenny Wilson said her focus is on the safety of her late-husband’s fellow firefighters.

“Honestly, part of me wants to – I mean, it’s hard enough living, you know, living my life. Single parent, you know? Getting a kid ready for college. Just day-to-day stuff. And then this crops up,” she said. “And, you know, most of me just wants to push it aside and just move on. But I can’t. I can’t. It’s too important. When I think, there’s 2,000 firefighters in the Dallas Fire Department. They put their lives on the line every day, you know? And I want them to be as safe as possible.”

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