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Thread: LODD- Two Philadelphia Firefighters Die Fighting House Blaze

  1. #1
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    Dec 2001
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    LODD- Two Philadelphia Firefighters Die Fighting House Blaze

    Updated: 08-21-2004 10:52:51 AM

    Two Philadelphia Firefighters Die Fighting House Blaze
    First Report: Bravest Trapped in Basement, Activated Emergency Alert

    Philadelphia Daily News, Distributed by the Associated Press

    Two firefighters were killed and a third injured when they became trapped in the basement where a one-alarm fire destroyed a Port Richmond home last night.

    Thick, black smoke poured from the two-story twin home in a row of so-called "doll houses" on Belgrade Street near Orthodox, just blocks from where three ladder and engine companies were to be closed due to city budget cuts.

    Killed were Capt. John Taylor, 53, and firefighter Rey Rubio, 42. Both men were assigned to Engine Company 28, and vocal critics of the city's plan to slash their engines, a move that has been put on hold by the courts.

    The name of the injured firefighter was not released last night. Taylor was a 32-year veteran and was the father of two children. Rubio, a 12-year veteran, was not married, city officials said.

    "These firefighters were engaged in doing the thing that the Fire Department does and does well," said a heavy-hearted Mayor Street outside fire headquarters last night. "They were fighting what we thought was a simple rowhouse fire..."

    Street called the firefighters "members of our family, the city's family.

    "There is nothing more sad than to be at a hospital and see fallen firefighters...who have given their lives in the line of duty," the mayor said.

    Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said he had worked at one point with both men.

    "It's a sad day for the city," Ayers said, saying the two men died in a "fierce firefight."

    Ray Mooney, 59, who has lived on the block five years, said he saw an elderly woman, looking dazed, on the steps of the house while black smoke poured out of the front door.

    "She seemed out of it. Then, a big whiff of black smoke came out of the house," he said.

    "The smoke kept getting thicker and thicker as if it were growing. There were no flames at all, just black smoke," he added.

    Firefighters were dispatched to the fire at 8 p.m. When they arrived and entered the house, they ran into trouble, according to firefighters at the scene. Taylor pressed his distress button, that they were down. Initial reports were that a floor had collapsed, trapping them.

    A Fire Department source said that the fire turned into a "flash over" when gases inside become so heated that they ignite.

    Vera Ravenna, 80, who lives on the same block, was getting ready to go to to the shore when she saw the blinking lights and ran outside.

    "I saw them trying to resuscitate the firefighter in the middle of the street. Then, they brought another one of them out," Ravenna said.

    "I got so upset when they brought the fireman out. I just got upset. There are three firehouses around here they want to close."

    Five people escaped the blaze, including Danny Frasco and Judy Frasco. According to city records, the house is owned by Anthony V. and Mary Jane Frasco. Their relationships could not be determined last night.

    The mostly elderly residents who live in homes on the well-manicured block on Belgrade Street near Orthodox Street were upset.

    As small American flags flew from the houses, residents watched firefighters try to revive one fireman while another was carried out of the twin house.

    The fire was under control at 9:12 p.m., authorities said. Haz-mat crews remained on standby because of the gases.

    Many of the residents had attended rallies an an effort to save the engine companies.

    Patty-Pat Koz-lowski, 27, works for City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski, and is president of the Port Richmond on Patrol and Civic Association.

    "You always think it's never going to happen in your neighborhood. We had hundreds of people out tonight. This is what we rallied for."

    Catherine Carr, 70, lives about six houses from the fire, said she was watching TV when the engines came roaring down the street the wrong way.

    "I came out and I see all the smoke coming out of that house. It was all black smoke. You couldn't see any flames.

    "This is one bad fire...And they want to close the firehouse? We need them. What if this fire station wasn't here? A few more houses would have gone up," said Carr, who attended local rallies to save the firehouse.

    Photo Below
    J.D. Brooke/PhillyFireNews.Com

  2. #2
    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    Dec 2001
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    Murder Charges in Blaze that Killed Two Philadelphia Firefighters

    Updated: 08-22-2004 09:35:25 PM

    Murder Charges in Blaze that Killed Two Philadelphia Firefighters
    Investigators Say Marijuana Growing in House Ignited Tragic Blaze as Comrades Remember Fallen

    J.D. Brooke/PhillyFireNews.Com

    Engine 28 was first to arrive at the fire Friday evening.

    Philadelphia Inquirer via the Associated Press

    The smoky one-alarm blaze that killed two decorated firefighters Friday in Port Richmond turned into a criminal case yesterday when police charged a resident with murder and with running a marijuana-growing operation in the house where the firefighters were killed.

    Police said Daniel Brough, 35, had haphazardly rigged up equipment in the basement of the rented house on the 3600 block of Belgrade Street. The plants were intensely heated, creating an environment ripe for fire, District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham said at a news conference yesterday.

    >> First Report: Two Philadelphia Firefighters Die Fighting House Blaze

    Capt. John Taylor, 53, of Northeast Philadelphia, and firefighter Rey Rubio, 42, of North Philadelphia, were trapped in the basement and later died of asphyxiation, according to the Medical Examiner's Office.

    Fire officials said Rubio's air pack may have gotten entangled in a web of wires feeding electricity to the marijuana operation. Firefighters said Taylor refused to leave Rubio's side.

    Both firefighters were assigned to Engine Company 28 in Port Richmond, one of eight engine and ladder companies the city plans to close to save money. Mayor Street ordered all firehouses to drape black bunting on their doors and fly their flags at half-staff out of respect for the fallen firefighters.

    At Engine 28, a steady flow of Port Richmond residents dropped off flowers, baked goods, sandwich platters and sympathy cards.

    "To our beloved heroes and saviors," read a note signed by the Gallagher family. "Thanks for saving our lives."

    Friday began as a routine night at the station, with Taylor's platoon reporting for duty at 6 p.m. and ordering pizza for dinner. They had just finished eating and were getting ready to watch the Eagles-Baltimore Ravens preseason game when the call came in about 8 p.m., said firefighter Walter Milewski, who drove the truck Taylor took to the scene.

    "When we first got there, it didn't look different from any other fire," said firefighter Robert Myers, a pump operator from one of the assisting stations. "It just seemed to be taking awfully, awfully long."

    The house was smoky, but its four occupants and their two dogs managed to get out. On the scene for about an hour, Taylor and Rubio went to the basement to figure out why the smoke wasn't lifting. That's when fire erupted and the men were trapped, fire officials said.

    Taylor ordered a rookie to follow the hoses out of the basement while he stayed behind to help Rubio, according to firefighter Charles Sgrillo and Capt. Daniel Skala, close friends of Taylor and his family. Taylor pushed the distress button on his radio to indicate that he and Rubio were in trouble.

    "He was the type of man who would give his life for you," Skala said. "And that's just what he did."

    The deaths were the second and third among city firefighters this year. In January, Lt. Derrick Harvey, 45, died after he was critically burned at a one-alarm house fire in Logan.

    Police said Brough was charged with two counts of third-degree murder, two counts of involuntary manslaughter, risking and causing a catastrophe, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Brough was awaiting arraignment last night at Police Headquarters.

    The Fire Marshal's Office said the cause was combustible materials too close to electrical appliances. Fans, lights and heaters were running in the basement at the time.

    Neighbors said Brough was a handyman who lived with his wife, stepson and mother. According to property records, Anthony V. and Mary Jane Frasco of Delran, Burlington County, own the house. Neighbors said Anthony Frasco is Brough's uncle.

    Eleanor Pinciotti was among several neighbors who said they suspected that Brough and two others on the block were dealing drugs, and that they had told police.

    "The police aren't listening," Pinciotti said.

    Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson said at yesterday's news conference that the narcotics unit never received any complaints about Brough.

    Neighbors and firefighters said the tragedy highlights the need for Engine 28. Many have posted handbills in their windows that read: "No Fire Department Cutbacks."

    City Managing Director Philip R. Goldsmith said the tragedy has not changed the engine company's status.

    "It's not relevant to what occurred," he said.

    Taylor, a 32-year veteran, died 12 years to the day he rescued a man from a North Philadelphia building minutes before it collapsed. The rescue earned him a heroism award in 1993. Married with two teenage children and a grown stepson, Taylor had been at Engine 28 for 14 months.

    "You wanted to do good by Capt. Taylor because he was so good," firefighter Milewski said. "He brought out the best in us."

    Lt. Pat Grace said Taylor lived and died by the advice he recently gave Grace.

    " 'The safety of your men comes first,' he told me. You take care of your men," Grace said.

    Rubio had a child and a second job at a pizza parlor, coworkers said. He joined the engine company about two months ago after nearly a dozen years at Ladder 22 in North Philadelphia. He only recently qualified to be a driver.

    In 1994, he received a unit citation for helping to evacuate people from a vacant factory, said firefighter Brian Swearingen, who worked with Rubio for about 10 years.

    "He was conscientious in his duties and a hard worker," Swearingen said. "He was also funny around the firehouse and always enjoyed a good joke."

    More than 100 firefighters gathered at Engine 28 Friday night. Some left their vacations to show their respect.

    "They were two great guys," said firefighter Tom Hillgen of Engine 28. "As soon as we start to talk about it in here, we all get emotional."

    Service Plans Coming Together

    Captain John Taylor (53). The viewing will be Wednesday, August 25, 2004 from 9AM to 11AM followed by the funeral service at 11 AM at St. Albert The Great Church, 214 Welsh Rd in Huntingdon Valley. Burial will be at the Forest Hills Cemetery on Byberry Road and Philmont Avenue in Lower Moreland

    Firefighter Rey Rubio (42). The viewing will be Thursday, August 26, 2004 from 9AM to 11 AM followed by funeral services at the Incarnation Roman Catholic Church, 5105 N. 5th St, Philadelphia. Burial will be at the Forest Hills Cemetery on Byberry Road and Philmont Avenue in Lower Moreland

    Official Photos via IAFF Local 22
    Capt. John Taylor & Firefighter Rey Rubio

  3. #3
    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    Dec 2001
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    Posted on Mon, Aug. 23, 2004

    Longtime courage of firefighters recalled

    Two gave their lives to, for the Fire Department


    IN THE FIRST two attempts to save Capt. John Taylor and Firefighter Rey Rubio, firefighters fought the heat and heavy black smoke while the fire raged.

    Their efforts were halted while other firefighters knocked down the one-alarm blaze ignited by an illegal marijuana-growing operation in the basement of a Port Richmond house on Friday.

    By the third attempt, the visibility was better for the next team of six firemen to enter the tiny two-story "doll house" on Belgrade Street near Orthodox.

    "Rey was tangled on something at the bottom of the steps. Johnny was trying to get him out and called Mayday," recalled Charles Sgrillo, one of the six who helped bring out the two dead firefighters.

    Rubio's equipment "was stuck on a metal grate protruding from the wall. When we pulled him, you couldn't move [the grate]," said Sgrillo.

    The team finally freed Rubio and carried him out. Then they found Taylor.

    Both were from Engine 28 Company, one of the eight engine and ladder companies scheduled to close in budget cuts, a decision postponed pending court action.

    Both men, whose lives revolved around the Fire Department, died of asphyxiation, according to the medical examiner's office.

    "I didn't know it was John until I took off his mask," said Sgrillo of his close friend. "I was in shock."

    Taylor, a 32-year veteran and outspoken critic of the plan to close Engine 28, had been in the department 15 years when he "broke in" Sgrillo at Engine 50 and Ladder 12 at Park Avenue and Cambria Street in 1987.

    "John was not a talker. He led by example, taught technique and stayed physically fit," said Sgrillo. "He instilled in you, you have to trust the guys you work with. They're your family. You give 100 percent and take it seriously. That's what he taught me."

    Just like Friday night, when Taylor ordered a rookie: "Get out! Follow the [hose] line. I got this."

    "He saved one fireman and was trying to save another," Sgrillo added.

    Charged in both deaths was Daniel Brough, 35, who allegedly grew marijuana in the basement of the house where he lived. Brough escaped injury.

    Fire officials said the fire started in the wiring set up to run the lamps and fans used to nurture the plants. They said it spread more quickly because the hot lights had dried out the wood in the closet.

    Yesterday, Brough was arraigned on two counts of third-degree murder, two counts of involuntary manslaughter, risking and causing a catastrophe, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

    He is being held without bail at Curran Fromhold Prison.

    Funeral services will be held this week for both decorated firefighters.

    Taylor is survived by his wife, Charlene, two teenage children and an adult stepson.

    Rubio is survived by his parents, eight siblings, a 21-year-old daughter, of Henderson, Nev., and a 3-year-old grandson.

    Exactly 12 years ago to the day he died, Taylor participated in a dramatic rescue with Sgrillo, earning both men the Heroism Award, the department's highest honor.

    On Aug. 20, 1992, the two showed up at 10th and Cumberland streets where the front of two houses had collapsed. An elderly man, slightly dazed, was still in bed in the third-floor front bedroom.

    "The roof was teetering and in danger of collapsing on top of the gentleman," recalled Sgrillo. "We put the main ladder up to the foot of his bed.

    "John is first up the ladder, I'm behind him, and he says, 'If the roof goes, pick a side to jump,' because we were going to get killed." The roof "would have fallen on the ladder."

    "The roof was unsupported and pitched downward at a 45-degree angle," recounted the Heroism Award winner. "Severe dusting and creaking and the continual movement of the structure indicated further collapse was imminent. The odor of gas was present."

    Taylor, at the top of the ladder, reached out for the trapped man, recalled Sgrillo. Slowly, the two firemen eased him down the ladder.

    The award cited their "outstanding" work "in the face of extreme personal danger."

    "Within four minutes, the two structures suffered a further collapse which totally obliterated the area in which the occupant had been trapped," stated the award, which hangs in the family room of Taylor's Northeast home.

    On Nov. 19, 1994, Rubio, a 13-year veteran, was part of a heroic team that received a unit commendation. The team evacuated residents as heavy winds threatened to spread a raging fire burning through the second story roof of a vacant factory in Fairhill.

    Under dangerous conditions of heavy smoke and "high radiant heat," Rubio and seven firefighters evacuated the residents, with no injuries or spread of fire to adjoining rowhouses, according to the award.

    Rubio "loved his job. He worked overtime whenever they asked him. He wanted to get there to the fire to save lives and property," said his eldest brother, Adrian Rubio, 49, who sat with his brothers and parents before a coffee table covered by Rey's photographs.

    "It was the only job he knew, and he gave it his all," his brother said.

    Rubio's parents, Gaston, 91, and Eduarda, 73, were asleep at 10:30 p.m. Friday when fire officials arrived.

    "I was shocked. I couldn't believe he was dead," said his mother, who relied on Rey to drive her to the clinic for her arthritis treatments.

    "I really loved him a lot," said his father.

    Rubio was 6 years old when he emigrated with his parents and then-eight siblings from Baracoa, Cuba, on a "Freedom Flight" in 1968.

    He grew up in North Philadelphia, graduated from Olney High School and served in the U.S. Air Force from 1981 to 1985. He wanted to perform public service and took the firefighter's exam.

    Rubio served 12 years at Ladder 22 at Front and Luzerne streets and was transferred to Ladder 28 at Belgrade and Ontario streets 14 months ago.

    At Ladder 22, Rey "liked driving the ambulance. He liked helping people and taking care of them. And if they needed him, he'd go back and work," said Adrian.

    Rey's other passion was playing basketball with friends, challenging hoopsters around the city, said his youngest brother, Jesus, 32.

    Yesterday, mourners continued to stop in Ladder 28 to offer condolences, sympathy and mass cards and bouquets of flowers on behalf of the fallen firefighters.

    Nearby resident Karen Szezepanski, 42, said if Engine 28 was not there, "that whole row of houses could have gone up easily."

    "They call it Port Richmond Pride, and it shows how they care about us," said firefighter Thomas Hillgen, of Engine 28.

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    Unhappy��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Rey Rubio I Knew

    I Will Miss Him My Brothers & Sisters Grew Up With Him His Brother Nano (nickname) Was Close To My Older Brother Tony

    I Hope He Is In Heavan With His Brother Nano (who Drowned About 20 Yrs Ago)

    How Sad We Will Miss Him So Much!

    He Went To Incarnation & Olney With My Brothers In Philly.

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