Polk County Fire Rescue chief resigns after release of independent report

The man who heads Polk County Fire Rescue has resigned after the release of an independent report on the response to a fatal house fire that killed a 67-year-old woman.

On Tuesday, Polk County Manager Jim Freeman announced Chief Tony Stravino is retiring within the next 30 days. Stravino has run Polk Fire Rescue for the last two years and has served in fire service for more than four decades.

“I have accepted that retirement and we will be making further announcements about the interim Chief and related matters shortly,” said Freeman.

This is the second person to leave Polk Fire Rescue in the wake of Pickard’s death. She was on the phone with 911 for 20 minutes waiting for someone to get her out of the house. Meanwhile, the captain in charge of the scene, James Williams, directed crews to concentrate on putting the fire out.

Williams resigned in March after being sanctioned for shooting cell phone video of the fire and posting it on social media that night.

A consultant’s report that presented Tuesday also pointed out that Williams crew did not bring rescue equipment used to forcibly enter a house to the scene.

Their report also points out that William’s computer was not working.

If it had been functional, crews could use it to find out where in the house Pickard was and how to get there.

Pickard’s family would like to see even more changes.

Amber Addison, Pickard’s niece, thinks the county should fire Stravino’s boss, Deputy County Manager Joe Halman.

“Joe Halman shouldn’t have a job,” Addison said. “He shouldn’t have an option of resigning. He needs to be terminated.”