Fire chief apologizes for 25 minute response time in fatal house - WSMV News 4

Fire chief apologizes for 25 minute response time in fatal house fire

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Tristan Waychoff died in a house fire on March 15. (WSMV) Tristan Waychoff died in a house fire on March 15. (WSMV)
LYLES, TN (WSMV) -

East Hickman Volunteer Fire Chief Thomas Yates is apologizing to the family of 15-year-old Tristan Waychoff after News 4 discovered it took firefighters 25 minutes to respond to Waychoff’s burning home on March 15.

“I wish I could have been there faster,” Yates told News 4. “I wish it was me instead of his little boy.”

Waychoff’s father Joseph Waychoff called 911 at 6:16 a.m. after waking up to heavy smoke in their home in Lyles. Records show the first fire truck arrived at 6:41 a.m.

“Everything went in such a blur with the fire and getting out and calling,” Waychoff said.  “Then it just seemed like time freaking stopped waiting and anticipating any type of help.”


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Tristan Waychoff’s body was found inside the home several hours after the fire started.

“Everything about him I will miss,” his father said. “He was a great kid.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

East Hickman is a volunteer department and Yates said when the call went out all the members were heading to their full-time jobs.

“These guys had to drive to the station, load their equipment in the truck, start the trucks and get in route to the fire,” he said. “Even if we could have gotten there in the minimum amount of time, seven to eight minutes, I don’t think the outcome would have been different.”

Yates said the home did not have a smoke detector and the fire was already fully involved when the call went out.

“All my guys sign up to give their life for somebody else,” said Yates. “I believe any one of them would have went in and given their all if they had that opportunity.”

A fund to help Joesph Waychoff has been set up at Community First Bank & Trust in Lyles. You can donate by calling 931-623-5000.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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