Fire department fined after firefighter Bradley Long's death - | WBTV Charlotte

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Fire department fined after firefighter Bradley Long's death

Bradley Long (Photo provided to WBTV by Dion Burleson with the Denver Fire Department) Bradley Long (Photo provided to WBTV by Dion Burleson with the Denver Fire Department)
SHERILL’S FORD, NC (WBTV) -

The N.C. Department of Labor has fined Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire & Rescue in connection to the death of fallen firefighter Bradley Long, who drowned while searching for a missing swimmer in Lake Norman in June.

"The Labor Department cited Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire & Rescue for two alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina with a total penalty of $5,600," Dept. of Labor officials said in a release Tuesday.

The citation states, in part "in Lake Norman, where, on June 6, 2016, the air supply for two public safety divers was not monitored at intervals adequate to prevent a low or no-air emergency while conducting underwater recovery operations to a depth of 80 feet."

RELATED: Fallen firefighter Bradley Long drowned during June search, officials say

The citation also states that "at least one member of the dive team conducted a recovery dive with the body recovery bag and search rope bag attached to his rig setup, creating an entanglement hazard," and "at least one diver failed to perform and document an equipment check prior to conducting underwater recovery operations to a depth of 80 feet."

It states that during the operation, one diver "was not equipped with a self-contained breathing (redundant) air supply capable of providing enough air for egress in the event of a primary air supply failure."

Long's exact cause of death was under investigation until, in late July, Major Andy Poteat of the Iredell County Sheriff's Office said test results showed Long "ran out of air under water."

Poteat said investigators found no problem's with Long's equipment and no signs of foul play. He said the death was a "tragic accident."

RELATED: Bradley Long's family talks about his life and legacy

Long's family sent WBTV a statement about the citation and fines Tuesday.

"We stand 100% behind Sherills Ford fire department and know they have the documents necessary for the appeal process," the family wrote.

In late July, officials said that several agencies, including OSHA, were still investigating Long's death, and that his dive equipment was sent to experts.

Major Poteat said he believes it was standard gear and would show how much air was left, but that Long ran out before resurfacing. He would not speculate on why Long ran out of air.

Long and two other firefighters went into the water to search for a 29-year-old man who jumped off a boat and didn't make it out of the water.

RELATED: Firefighter, two divers experienced emergency underwater

Officials said early on that Long and the firefighters experienced an "emergency" in 35 to 75 feet of water, close to where the swimmer went missing. Two divers came out of the water, Long did not, officials said.

"A rescue effort was implemented and when they reached him he had already succumb to his injuries," Catawba County Emergency Management said in June. The two other firefighters went to Regional Medical Center with minor injuries. 

Long worked at the Newton Fire Department and was a volunteer with Sherrills Ford-Terrell Fire and Rescue, where he had been a member for 12 years. He was working with Sherrills Ford during the search.

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