GE officials dispute claims in fire investigation - WDRB 41 Louisville News

GE officials dispute claims in fire investigation

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Antiquated water systems, adverse weather and a reduced staff are to blame for the spread of a fire that destroyed building 6 at GE Appliance Park, according to a report from the Louisville Fire Department. Antiquated water systems, adverse weather and a reduced staff are to blame for the spread of a fire that destroyed building 6 at GE Appliance Park, according to a report from the Louisville Fire Department.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An investigation by the Louisville Fire Department found GE could have done more to prevent a fire that destroyed a building at Appliance Park, but company officials say investigators are wrong and they have the video to prove it.

The investigation revealed faulty, outdated equipment made things worse during that massive fire in April. However, the company says the video proves the fire suppression equipment worked.

Everyone agreed the fire at GE's Appliance Park was massive but after that, it becomes a disagreement.

"I believe that a sprinkler system would have extinguished or would have held in check which would have allowed the firefighters to get in and to be able to extinguish the fire," said Major Henry Ott, with Louisville Metro Arson.

Louisville firefighters say the investigation revealed the equipment made things worse when building six went up in flames. The building is leased by Derby Supply Chain Solutions, a GE parts vendor.

"General Electric and Derby have a contract in place that spells out the responsibility to make changes," said Maj. Ott.

Fire investigators say the list of things that went wrong is long and includes inoperable hydrants, low water pressure and exterior hose gongs or alarms that didn't work.

"Thirteen Derby employees did not see any sprinklers operating at all when they first saw the fire. Another Derby employee saw water flow but it was not being effective," Maj. Ott said.

"There was speculation in there and there was fact in there," said Kim Freeman, GE Spokesperson.

GE officials dispute a lot of the claims revealed in the investigation.

"We have visual confirmation and testimony that the sprinkler systems were indeed working, we have about 5 employees that saw them working," Freeman said.

Freeman said there's also helmet cam video that proves the fire suppression equipment worked.

"We know that there was water to the hydrants because we have video of water actually being deployed from the hoses to the fire."

But Freeman admits the company was told the sprinkler system needed to be updated.

"We gave that recommendation to Derby Industries, it was there responsibility as a leaser to make those upgrades and they did not do so."

Meanwhile, the cause is still unknown but fire officials suspect it may have been lightning.

"A very credible witness identified the strike directly above where the fire originated," Maj. Ott explained.

Right now, the company is in the process of updating all of its fire suppression equipment. That started several years ago.

More: Louisville Fire investigation says precautions could have saved building in GE Fire

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