Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Series of Unfortunate Events Caused FDNY Deaths

No one at the FDNY seems to know how or why the standpipes at Deutsche Bank were not tested for more than a year prior to the fire. No one at the FDNY seems to know why there wasn't a fire plan in place to deal with a possible fire at the building during deconstruction.
Steve Cassidy, head honcho of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, met with Fire Commissioner Nick Scoppetta and his staff on Monday and asked a simple question. Did the Fire Department have a pre-fire plan for this horror house, the Deutsche Bank?

"Amazingly, the Fire Department said they didn't know," said an incredulous spokesman, Tom Butler.

When asked if they would send firefighters in again if there happened to be another fire in that building and on the same floor, the department astoundingly said they don't know.

"They said they weren't sure," said Butler.
These are criminal oversights. Two firefighters paid with their lives for fighting a fire in a building when there was no way to fight the fire - sprinkers and standpipes were inoperative. Firefighters improvised a makeshift standpipe by running lines down the exterior of the building, but in the time it took to hook up that system, time ran out for Joe Graffagnino and Robert Beddia. Their air supplies ran out, and until the end, they relied on their training, including tracing their water lines back to attempt to back out of the maze of plywood and polyvinyl wrap used in the decontamination of floors at the building.

All the problems with the demolition work occurred even after supervisors of the work blew the whistle on unsafe conditions, and alcoholic beverages present within the building:
"The firefighters - they didn't stand a chance. They walked into a deathtrap, a booby trap a year or more in the making," said the 52-year-old asbestos-removal supervisor, who worked at the Ground Zero job site for a year.

The supervisor met with FDNY marshals Tuesday, telling them he saw a slew of safety violations in the toxic tower.

He said the 29th floor was casually known as "Teddy's Tavern" because of the vodka and other booze regularly consumed in that floor's decontamination unit, where men cleaned up and ate meals. The 29th floor has since been demolished.

The whistleblower also said work crews smoked heavily and ran live power lines along floors where asbestos removal was being done - a dangerous lapse.

He said the demolition subcontractor, John Galt Corp., hired one electrician to monitor 10 floors, instead of the required two per floor. He charged that some workers set up transformers on work floors and failed to safeguard the red-hot electrical generators.

Galt was hit with a "Notice of Default" yesterday from Bovis Lend Lease, the general contractor. The notice axed Galt from the project, citing numerous safety violations at the demolition site and "the failure to properly maintain all required site safety precautions."

The whistleblower worked at the job site from May 2006 until Memorial Day 2007, when he said he had a blowup with his boss at John Galt over an unpaid bonus. The whistleblower said he quit and took a better job.
The whistleblower also notes that the standpipes appeared to be in working order when he left, but it is possible that they were dismantled by Galt's workers to run compressed air through the system to power systems in the floors above.

The Post isn't mincing words. They want FDNY Commissioner Scoppetta to be fired, and want the tower to be brought down immediately. The former is more easily achieved, but the latter is in doubt because of ongoing concerns about contamination and safety within the building. Someone will need to be hired to finish the job started by John Galt Corp., the subcontractor for Bovis Lend Lease, since Galt was fired from the job yesterday. Another company will have to bid and move forward on the demolition work. That will take time, and I don't see how much Gov. Spitzer or Mayor Bloomberg can do to spur the process on, unless they're both willing to avoid a competitive bidding process to make time of the essence.

The Daily News echoes the Post's calls for FDNY brass to be fired. The failures by the FDNY to have a fire plan and inspections contributed to the deadly scenario.

The Times runs through the corporate existence of the John Galt corporation, which is really an amalgamation of other corporate entities and appears to include corporate officers from a company that was previously kicked off the Deutsche Bank project.

More injuries at Ground Zero - a new scaffolding collapse at Deutsche Bank has injured three people, including a firefighter who is in critical condition with possible head trauma.

Today marks the funeral for Joseph Graffagnino. Robert Beddia will be laid to rest tomorrow.

More details on the collapsed scaffolding.
At least two firefighters were injured this afternoon when part of the scaffolding surrounding the Deutsche Bank building collapsed, hours after crews began doing remedial work on the building following Saturday’s deadly fire.

Fire officials say the collapse occurred shortly before 2 p.m., injuring at least two firefighters, who were transported to Saint Vincent's Hospital.

One firefighter is said to have suffered head injuries. Early reports indicated that several civilians, possibly construction workers were also injured, but the exact number and extent of the injuries is not yet known.

Residents who live near the building have been advised to keep their windows closed while remedial work is being performed.

No comments: