Widow of Dallas Firefighter Demands Changes, Mayor Promises Review

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings promised late Tuesday to review demands from the widow of a fallen firefighter.

Jenny Wilson called a press conference Tuesday afternoon, insisting on an independent investigation into her husband's death and changes in fire department policy.

Stanley Wilson, 51, a husband and father, died when a burning building collapsed on him while fighting a six-alarm fire at the Hearthwood Condominiums on Abrams Road in May 2013.

He was ordered back into the building after it had already been searched, but no one was ever disciplined for mistakes made at the scene.

“We are here today because of a lack of effective action on the part of the Dallas Fire Department after Stan’s death,” Jenny Wilson said. “I had full faith in the fire department to do the right thing. I stayed quiet, and looking back I don’t know if I did the right thing.”

Jenny Wilson’s lawyer, Barry Hasten, said a 703-page report on the May 2013 fire was edited into 111 pages released by Fire Chief Louie Bright in September 2014.

"Both reports were withheld for 15 months under the guise that there was an ongoing arson investigation, which we now know was blatantly false," he said.

Hasten said the final version omitted strong language about the lack of department discipline and a culture that protects jobs instead of lives.

"We had hoped we could bring a lawsuit, if nothing else, to expose the people who allow this culture of indifference to exist unchecked and to bring about much-needed change,” Hasten said.

But the lawyer said Texas law forbids the family of a civil service employee from suing the city, so they’re asking Rawlings and other city leaders to see that changes are made.

“I can tell you this is like a kick in the teeth to this family,” Hasten said. “I expect Mike Rawlings to take leadership. I expect him to pick up the phone and ask Chief Bright to bring the 703-page report down there and let him look at it.”

Wilson's family wore red T-shirts at the press conference that read, "Stand Up for Stan."

"All I wanted was a sincere apology from the fire department saying, 'We're sorry.' That didn't happen," said Jenny Wilson.

Dallas Fire-Rescue Lt. Joel Lavender said an independent State Fire Marshal investigation has already been conducted and changes are being made as the result of Stanley Wilson’s death.

“We’re going to do whatever we can to not only make Dallas Fire-Rescue better but also remember the legacy of Stan Wilson,” Lavender said. “We have to stay above the fray and do what’s right not only for the legacy of Stan but for firefighters across the nation.”

Rawlings also issued a statement:

“Stanley Wilson’s death was a terrible tragedy for our city. I want to make sure Dallas Fire-Rescue learns whatever it can from what happened on that day nearly two years ago through the information contained in three different reports that have thus far been issued regarding this fatal fire. Therefore, I am asking the City Manager’s office to provide me an update on the status of any changes that are being made as a result of the investigations. I am also asking for more information regarding the possibility of recording ground radio communications in the future and what it would take to make that happen.

“We must do everything possible to ensure that no other family suffers the pain that the Wilson family has endured these past two years.”

State Fire Marshal's Report

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Stanley Wilson - DFR Firefighter Fatality Investigation (Text)

City of Dallas' Report

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Stanley Wilson - DFR Investigation Report (Text)

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