A federal agency is in Claremore investigating the death of Firefighter Captain Jason Farley. He was killed in May when he fell into a "rapidly flowing drainage pipe" and drowned.
Tuesday, investigators were at City Hall interviewing firefighters who were with Captain Farley the night he died. Investigators are also looking at the drain and the training firefighters go through.
The flags and flowers just feet away from this drainage ditch are a daily reminder of Farley's final call. "I know the public drives by and sees it and says ‘how can that happen?', but it's just one of those things we are trying to learn from," said Claremore Fire Chief Sean Douglas.
Farley was sucked into this drainage pipe while trying to rescue neighbors trapped by flood water.
The city sent cameras inside to get a closer look at what blocked Captain Farley from getting out alive. “They found a pipe that went through another pipe, so it may have caused the obstruction,” explained Douglas. “Initially, that is what we are thinking may have caught captain Farley."
Douglas asked investigators with The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety to help figure out what can be done to prevent another death.
Investigators are now looking at training records, equipment, and interviewing firefighters who were with Farley the night of his death. “In a way it helps for them to have a reason to talk and contribute, which is why we do it in a closed group and a setting," Douglas stated.
Douglas is also talking to the city about improvements to the sewer system.
One idea is to add a marker, which would stand high above flood water, to let firefighters know there's a ditch nearby.
Other ideas include guard rails, some type of cover over drainage pipes, or using poles when flood water is high.
The investigators are in town until Thursday, but it could take anywhere from six months to a year before the investigation is complete.