Two New York Bravest Perished in Error 'Storm'

MURRAY WEISS
Courtesy of New York Post

September 15, 2005 -- Failure to inspect a kinked fire hose led to "a perfect storm" of horrific errors that forced six firefighters to jump from a blazing Bronx building, killing two of them, the FDNY said yesterday.

In a blistering report, the department said the firefighters and their officers did not follow basic procedures throughout the tragedy.

The report said the string of bewildering blunders began when a kink developed in hose in the hallway of the building at 236 E. 178th St. last Jan. 23.

Not only was the line never checked and straightened out, but an erroneous report that the hose had burst was broadcast over the firefighters' radios.

As a result, the firefighter in charge of the pumper shut down the hose.

Amazingly, he never told anyone the water was off. And with firefighters who were battling the blaze on the third floor now without water, several on the fourth floor were ordered to bring down their hose.

This left six firefighters without a working hose when the flames burst through the ceiling and trapped them on the fourth floor. Facing certain death, they six jumped 40 feet to a concrete yard, with two dying.

There were other serious communication failures:

* A firefighter using a thermal-imaging camera found fire in a fourth-floor wall, but told no one.

* Another firefighter carried the dead hose up to the fourth floor and it went limp when he opened the nozzle. He broadcast this, but it was not acknowledged.

"A perfect storm of dangerous conditions led to the tragedy and the deaths," Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta declared.

The report came on the day firefighter Gene Stolowski, 33, one of the survivors of the tragedy, left the Kessler Institute in New Jersey after seven months of rehab.

Stolowski, who suffered broken legs and ribs and a shattered pelvis, walked out with his wife and three daughters.

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