5 fire department employees disciplined over Burton Barr Central Library flooding

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5 Phoenix Fire and Medical Department workers were disciplined over the flooding of Burton Barr Central Library. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) 5 Phoenix Fire and Medical Department workers were disciplined over the flooding of Burton Barr Central Library. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Three people from the fire prevention team were suspended, the fire marshal was demoted and the records clerk fired. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Three people from the fire prevention team were suspended, the fire marshal was demoted and the records clerk fired. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The investigation found the records clerk didn't do what she was supposed to do with the deficiency reports. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The investigation found the records clerk didn't do what she was supposed to do with the deficiency reports. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The city manager disagreed that budget cuts and staffing levels are part of the reason why the library's maintenance fell through the cracks. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The city manager disagreed that budget cuts and staffing levels are part of the reason why the library's maintenance fell through the cracks. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The City of Phoenix released its completed personnel investigation into the Burton Barr Central Library flooding incident, revealing five Phoenix Fire and Medical Department employees knew its fire sprinkler system didn't meet fire code and didn't do anything to fix it. 

That brings the total number of employees involved in the $10 million dollar mistake to eleven.

[READ MORE: 3 City of Phoenix employees fired for Burton Barr Library water damage]

Three people from the fire prevention team were suspended, the fire marshal was demoted and the records clerk fired.

Their names, positions, and punishment are listed below:

  • Kelvin Bartee, assistant fire chief: 80-hour suspension
  • Mike Abegg, fire marshal: demoted
  • Elizabeth DeLaCruz, records clerk II: termination
  • Joseph Bonnell, captain: 80-hour suspension
  • Mike Ong, Deputy chief: 40-hour suspension

According to assistant chief Shelly Jamison, the four still employed will finish their discipline by the end of this week and return to work next week.

Prior to the July 2017 flooding, there were two inspections by the fire-sprinkler contractor who found the system could leak, causing significant damage.

[SLIDESHOW: Storm damage at Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix]

The investigation found the records clerk didn't do what she was supposed to do with the deficiency reports.

City manager Ed Zuercher called it a "staff failure," but stood up for other City employees.

"The message to City employees through this is clear - focus on getting your job done - and that's what happens 99 percent of the time with our employees," he said. 

[READ: City manager memo sent about latest on Burton Barr Central Library]

"Fourteen-thousand employees every day are doing all sorts of work for the community that's successful," added Zuercher. "I don't want lose sight of that."

Moving forward, he assures the public all other City of Phoenix buildings are up to code and are not at-risk for a Burton Barr Central Library repeat. 

"We did a review of all of our buildings and found no similarities to the situation that we had (with Burton)," said Zuercher. "Our buildings are safe, but we're doing a deeper dive into the sprinkler system maintenance and all that, making sure everything is on a five-year plan and it's taken care of."

"I have a staff person in our office," he added. "That is her full-time job is reviewing all that information and making sure we have plans for all of our buildings."

Jamison partially blamed lack of staffing for the mistake, explaining that budget cuts over the past 10 years resulted in more than half of the fire prevention staff being eliminated.

"As the Phoenix Fire Department, we have taken all necessary measures to meet our service delivery standards but the incident with the Burton Barr Library illustrated that more needed to be done," said Jamison. "We have met this challenge by reexamining our processes and procedures, refining our service delivery model in fire prevention, and closely examining how we can ensure that we continue to provide outstanding fire prevention to the public."

[READ: Supplemental report on Burton Barr Library's fire sprinkler system]

She added that the department is "looking at opportunities and options for increasing the staffing."

Zuercher disagreed that budget cuts and staffing levels are part of the reason why the library's maintenance fell through the cracks.

"Everyone in the city has experienced cuts, but not every building has experienced a failure like this," said Zuercher. "I don't attribute that to the issue that there were cuts. This was about people who didn't focus on what their job was and do the job that they had to do."

The Burton Barr Central Library is expected to reopen in June.

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