Boyertown Borough Fire Marshal Rick Smith said the Berks County dispatch center that responded to an unresponsive 9-1-1 call at the Boyertown Library on Aug. 5 followed correct protocol.Initially, Smith had suggested the dispatcher's delay in calling fire departments was a determining factor in the death of 84-year-old Loah Whitmore.
Police reports stated the fire broke out from a second floor apartment, the home of Whitmore.
"I am no way pointing a finger at the Berks County communication center," Smith said in a phone interview Thursday.
If the 9-1-1 dispatcher receives an unresponsive emergency call, there is no way to know what the emergency is, Smith explained.
At their Aug. 7 meeting, the Berks County Commissioners were unaware of any allegations made against the county dispatcher.
Commissioners Chairman Mark Scott said the matter would be addressed at a later time, pending further investigation.
Boyertown Police Department Chief Barry Leatherman was the first to be contacted and respond to the scene, discovering "heavy smoke" and a trapped Whitmore.
"They [the communications center] received the 9-1-1 non-responsive phone call, they heard bells in the background and they immediately notified the police department," Smith said. "Had Berks not done anything with the call that would be one thing, but they handled it to the best of their ability."
In a press release from state police, the fire was ruled as accidental with no other injuries reported.
Upon Leatherman's arrival, smoke was visible from the second floor rear windows of the building. The fire department was dispatched and extinguished the flames.
Whitmore was discovered in the rear bedroom and pronounced dead at the scene by Berks County Deputy Coroner William Hertzog at 2:01 p.m.
The fire department contained the fire to the kitchen area.
The police ruled the origin of the fire was from an electrical appliance left unattended during food preparation.
The report also stated the total estimate of damages would be $125,000, however Linda Famous, of the library board of directors, said Thursday that the library has yet to see a total for damages.
She said the board of directors hoped to reopen the library by Thursday, Aug. 14.