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Thread: Two FDNY Firefighters Killed in Floor Collapse Remembered

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    Two FDNY Firefighters Killed in Floor Collapse Remembered

    Two FDNY Firefighters Killed in Floor Collapse Remembered
    Rookie and Lieutenant Were Among Five Rescued in Blaze

    Updated: 08-31-2006 12:17:13 AM

    WABC-TV, New York
    Reprinted with Permission

    A second firefighter has died battling a blaze in the Bronx, in what has been called the deadliest day for the FDNY in almost two years.

    On Monday, 43-year-old Howard Carpluk, a 20-year veteran, died of his injuries. Also killed: 25-year-old Michael Reilly, a rookie firefighter. We have several reports, including a closer look at the lives of the fallen firefighters. But we begin with NJ Burkett with the latest on the investigation.

    A second New York City firehouse is in mourning and fire commanders are defending their decision to send the men inside in what is known as an aggressive interior attack.

    It is one of the saddest New York City traditions: A firehouse draped in bunting. On Monday morning, Carpluk of Engine Company 42, became the second firefighter died after yesterday's raging storefront inferno.

    "The loss of these two heroic firefighters will stay with all of us for the rest of our careers and the rest of our lives," Assistant FDNY Chief Robert Sweeney said.

    The fire ripped through a Bronx variety store, fueled by flammable merchandise and paper products. Five firefighters were working on the main floor when the ceiling and a rooftop air conditioner suddenly gave way, collapsing the floor beneath them in a chain reaction death trap.

    Three firefighters were rescued after several minutes, but Lietenant Carpluk and rookie firefighter Reilly were pinned beneath the wreckage for more than an hour.

    "That's what we do day in and day out 24/7 ... this is a fire, there is a chance that somebody may be inside there ... we go in there and put the fire out," an official added.

    Reilly was 25-years-old, an ex-Marine with Engine company 75. And in a sad twist of fate, Carpluk was filling in yesterday -- his unit was not among the first responders.

    The cause of the fire is still not clear. It appears that it started in a row of refrigerators and is not regarded as suspicious.

    But Eyewitness News has learned that the roof may have been weak to begin with.

    Michael Reilly Remembered

    We are learning more today about the two men who died battling that blaze. Twenty-five-year-old firefighter Michael Reilly was living a life-long dream as a firefighter. He just graduated two months ago.

    New Jersey reporter Anthony Johnson is in Ramsey on how Reilly is being remembered.

    Mourners are stopping by the memorial outside of the rescue squad where the flags are at half-staff and the black and purple bunting is draped from the roof of the building. Friends and colleagues are shaken by the tragic death. They say he was an outstanding person, a real fireman's fireman.

    "He became a natural leader for us ... he had a huge heart," a coworker said.

    At the Riley family home, there were deliveries of food and sympthay for those who knew Michael.

    "His mother just wanted everyone to know that Michael was doing what he wanted to do. His dream was accomplished being a New York City fireman," a family friend said.

    Neighbors say Riley was a young man who loved to help people.

    "He was one of those type of kids who would help out without being asked ... help out an elderly neighbor ... he was just a real gentleman," a neighbor said.

    That same sentiment was shared at his Westchester County home where he had been living for the past five months with three buddies, including another New York City fireman.

    Howard Carpluk Remembered

    For more on the life of firefighter Howard Carpluk, we turn to Emily Smith in Yaphank where it was a very painful day for the family and the FDNY.

    Authorities have been outside the Carpluk home all afternoon just to help with the family's privacy. Now, Lieutenant Carpluk leaves behind his wife Debra, his daughter Paige, his son Bradley.

    Understandably, family members did not want to go on camera today. But those in the neighborhood certainly did.

    "Even with our children, he played ball with them ... just an all around great guy," a neighbor said.

    Carpluk moved to Yaphank 15 years ago, making a difference to everyone he ever met.

    "He has been a wonderful neighbor, really generous ... anytime there is a problem ... he has been involved," another neighbor said.

    (Copyright 2006 WABC-TV)

    Funeral Arrangements

    A wake for Michael Reilly will be held Wednesday and Thursday from 2-5 p.m., and 7-10 p.m, at Van Emburgh Sneider Funeral Home in Ramsey, New Jersey. A procession and funeral mass are set for Friday, Sept. 1st, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Paul Roman Catholic Church in Ramsey.

    A wake for Lt. Howie Carpluk is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 31 and Friday, Sept. 1 from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Chappy's Funeral Home, 200 East Main Street, East Islip, Long Island. The funeral is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2 at 11 a.m. at Saint Mark's Church, 754 Montauk Highway, Islip, New York.

    Memorial Information

    Mike Reilly Memorial Fund
    Attn: Commissar
    2175 Walton Avenue
    Bronx, NY 10453

    Lt. Howie Carpluk Memorial Fund
    1781 Monroe Avenue
    Bronx, NY 10457


    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...5&sectionId=39

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    Investigators Probe Fire That Claimed Two Bravest
    Botched Fix After 2000 Blaze May Have Contributed to Collapse

    Updated: 09-01-2006 03:25:15 PM

    By MURRAY WEISS, AYESHA AKRAM and MARSHA KRANES

    The NYPD is probing whether a 2000 arson blaze led to Sunday's Bronx discount-store floor collapse, in which two firefighters plummeted to their deaths under piles of debris and merchandise, sources said yesterday.

    A preliminary examination of the building shows that the post-fire reconstruction from six years ago was "faulty, hugely faulty," a city official told The Post.

    Buildings Department engineers and fire inspectors were combing through the ruins of the Walton Avenue building, trying to determine if the renovations made after the July 17, 2000, blaze had left the building structurally compromised.

    A 20-by-30-foot section of the store's floor caved in as firefighters were battling a blaze that apparently erupted in a refrigeration unit at the rear of the one-story building. The blaze was not considered suspicious.

    Lt. Howard Carpluk, 43, died a day after the collapse killed rookie firefighter and Iraq war veteran Michael Reilly, 25, making it the deadliest day for the FDNY since "Black Sunday," when three firefighters died on Jan. 23, 2005.

    An FDNY spokesman said that Battalion Chief Thomas Auer, 47, and Lt. John Grasso, 45, were in stable condition last night at New York Hospital. Firefighter Wayne Walters, 36, was released Monday.

    The 2000 blaze - a three-alarmer that caused extensive damage - was declared an arson. Fire marshals determined that it had been set by someone who poured gasoline on the roof.

    Although no arrests were made in the case, a source familiar with the investigation said detectives suspected that vagrants who hung out in a nearby park were hired to torch the building.

    Another source said that before the case was closed in February 2001, the NYPD had been zeroing in on two possible suspects, but they didn't have enough evidence to build a case against them.

    A law-enforcement source yesterday noted that the cause in the 2000 blaze was similar to that in a series of fires set as part of an arson-for-profit scheme for which David Gold, one of the owners of Sunday's fire-ravaged building, was arrested by the feds in 1983.

    Because of the similarities, police and fire officials are reviewing the case file for the 2000 blaze.

    In the 1983 case, the feds busted Gold and seven others for allegedly operating the arson-profit ring. They were accused of starting 43 fires in 37 rundown, partially occupied apartment buildings in Brooklyn, The Bronx and Manhattan.

    Most of the fires were set on rooftops by professional "torches," according to a former agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who had knowledge of the case.

    The arson ring was made up of "a group of real-estate developers who looked for buildings in disrepair, buildings the city had foreclosed on for failure to pay taxes," the ex-fed told The Post.

    "They would take over the property basically for the taxes due, and then burn them," he recalled. "Then they would submit small insurance claims - so small that the insurance companies wouldn't raise an eyebrow. Sometimes the building was burned twice."

    But it wasn't just the insurance money the schemers were after, said the former agent, who spent five years investigating the scam.

    "The buildings all had been partially occupied, so in most cases, they burned out families and ended up with a vacant building. And then they could apply for Section 8 HUD financing. The building then became valuable and they flipped it," he said.

    "If it was still occupied, they walked away."

    Gold, 65, a real-estate lawyer and partner in Davir Realty Ltd., was initially charged with racketeering. He ended up pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges of mail fraud and was given two concurrent six month sentences, which were suspended. He was also put on three years' probation, fined $200 and required to serve 300 hours of community service.

    Gold got the plea deal "because he was a cooperator," providing vital information about another defendant, said the ex-ATF agent.

    A former Brooklyn prosecutor echoed the ex-fed's account.

    Attempts to reach Gold at his Brooklyn home and Bronx office were unsuccessful yesterday. His lawyer, Jeffrey Hoffman, who handled the 1983 case, said Gold is out of town. Hoffman said he was not aware that the NYPD was re-examining the case file for the 2000 fire.

    "I don't know how anyone can say that. There was an investigation into the 2000 fire and nobody claimed there was anything suspicious," he insisted. "If I remember correctly, the appropriate insurance was paid off, and they never pay off if there's any specter of impropriety."

    Hoffman said Gold was one of "probably three owners" of the building.

    According to records at the New York Department of State, Davir Realty is located at the same address as Gold's Bronx law office.

    Hoffman claimed Gold cannot be held responsible if faulty repairs are found to be responsible for Sunday's disaster. He said, "Mr. Gold is a passive investor - it's like saying that I am responsible for IBM's performance because I own 1,000 shares in IBM."

    Of the 1983 arson-for-profit case, Hoffman said Gold's "name was only brought up because some of his clients were involved, and when they cast the net, they arrested everybody even remotely involved."

    An FDNY source noted that rooftop fires are a favorite of arsonists.

    "The reason an arsonist sets fire to the roof is that it usually totals the building," he said. "It's the most expensive part of the building and, more importantly, all the water [poured on by firefighters] goes from top to bottom, causing tremendous water damage."

    Buildings Department records show that the owners filed paperwork for repairs to be made to joists and partitions after the 2000 fire. There is no indication that inspectors ever looked at the work. There have been no significant violations on other matters in the building since then.

    The 99-cent store that was the scene of Sunday's fatal fire was the latest in a series of discount shops to go up in flames, but officials say they have been unable to determine a pattern because there aren't enough marshals to properly investigate.

    "The fire marshals have been reduced to a skeleton-like force since 9/11," said Peter Gorman, president of Uniformed Fire Officers Association. "Their ability to investigate has been greatly reduced."

    Since 2002, at least seven fires either began inside or involved 99-cent stores across the city.


    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=39&id=50971

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    Bereft Engine 42 Comrades Set up Scholarship To Honor Fallen Who Was Selfless Even in Death

    Updated: 08-31-2006 12:05:45 AM

    Bryan Virasami And Joseph Mallia
    Newsday (Melville, New York)

    Aug. 30--The death of New York City Fire Department Lt. Howard Carpluk in a Bronx store fire continued to resonate yesterday at his home firehouse, Engine 42, where his comrades announced yesterday that they had created a memorial fund to benefit his widow and two young children.

    "This is a crippling loss for us," said Engine 42's Lt. Steven Wall.

    He was "an excellent leader, an excellent fireman. ... It's a very difficult moment for us at 42 and it is a very difficult moment for the FDNY."

    Fire union officials said yesterday that Carpluk, 43, in a last act of generosity, donated his organs to those in need of transplants.

    The Yaphank man died Monday in Montefiore Medical Center of injuries he suffered in a Sunday fire when the floor of a discount store in the Mount Eden section of the Bronx collapsed beneath a group of firefighters searching for victims.

    His family said yesterday that they were grateful for the kindness and generosity they have received since his death.

    "Debbie, his wife, and his brother and sisters would like to thank everybody for their heartfelt thoughts and prayers," said FDNY firefighter John Blake of Patchogue, a family friend who answered the telephone at their Yaphank home.

    "Debbie would like to add that he was a wonderful father, and a loving husband, and there are no words to describe what his family is going through," Blake said.

    Wall said he first met Carpluk after Sept. 11, 2001, and he noticed that he was especially helpful to young firefighters who joined the department after the attacks.

    Carpluk had a "calming influence in this firehouse after that horrible moment," Wall said, echoing the views of families and small business owners near the Bronx firehouse who praised him for watching out for the neighborhood's children.

    Another firefighter who died the day of the fire, Michael Reilly, 25, of Ramsey, N.J., will be laid to rest Friday, following a funeral Mass at St. Paul Roman Catholic Church on Wyckoff Avenue in Ramsey at 10:30 a.m.

    Carpluk's family has set visiting hours for tomorrow and Friday, from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at the Frederick J. Chapey & Sons Funeral Home in East Islip.

    A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Montauk Highway in Islip.

    Donations to the Howard Carpluk Memorial Fund, benefiting his widow Debra, son Bradley, 14, and daughter Paige, 10, may be sent to P.O. Box 1124, Morris Heights Station, Bronx, NY 10453.



    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=39&id=50972

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    Carpluk, Howard

    Age: 43
    Cause of Death: Caught or Trapped
    Rank: Lieutenant
    Nature of Death: Heart Attack
    Classification: Career
    Emergency Duty: Yes

    Incident Date: 08/27/2006
    Duty Type: On-Scene Fire
    Incident Time: 12:30
    Activity Type: Advance Hose Lines/Fire Attack (includes Wildland)
    Death Date: 08/27/2006
    Fixed Prop. Use: Store/Office

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Fire Department City of New York
    9 Metro Tech Center
    Brooklyn , New York 11201
    Chief: Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta

    Initial Summary:
    Lieutenant Carpluk died of injuries he suffered while working at the scene of a commercial structure fire. Carpluk along with four other firefighters, who were all injured, one, Firefighter Michael Reilly lost his life on the scene, became trapped when the floor of the structure collapsed and they fell into the basement.



    http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/applications...eath_year=2006

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    Reilly, Michael

    Age: 25
    Cause of Death: Caught or Trapped
    Rank: Firefighter
    Nature of Death: Heart Attack
    Classification: Career
    Emergency Duty: Yes

    Incident Date: 08/27/2006
    Duty Type: On-Scene Fire
    Incident Time: 12:30
    Activity Type: Advance Hose Lines/Fire Attack (includes Wildland)
    Death Date: 08/27/2006
    Fixed Prop. Use: Store/Office

    Fire Dept. Info:
    Fire Department City of New York
    9 Metro Tech Center
    Brooklyn , New York 11201
    Chief: Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta

    Initial Summary:
    Firefighter Reilly died while working at the scene of a commercial structure fire. Reilly along with four other firefighters, who were all injured, one critically, became trapped when the floor of the structure collapsed and they fell into the basement.



    http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/applications...eath_year=2006

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