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Thread: Two FDNY Firefighters Killed in High-Rise Fire near World Trade Center

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    Two FDNY Firefighters Killed in High-Rise Fire near World Trade Center

    Two FDNY Firefighters Killed in High-Rise Fire near World Trade Center


    Updated: 08-19-2007 04:25:55 AM

    FIREHOUSE.COM NEWS

    Two New York City firefighters were killed on Saturday afternoon as they battled a seven-alarm fire in a vacant high-rise building across the street from the World Trade Center site.

    Killed were Firefighters Robert Beddia, 53, of Engine 24 and Joseph Graffagnino, 34, of Ladder 5.

    "They were found right away, and they were pulled out," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "Doctors said the level of carbon monoxide is at such an elevated level that it's not surprising that they went into cardiac arrest."

    "Today's events really are another cruel blow to our city and to our fire department," said Mayor Bloomberg.

    The fire started on the 17th floor of the Deustche Bank, an abandoned 40-story building 1.4 million square feet of office space. Commissioner Scoppetta said the fire was reported just after 3 p.m. by workers who noticed smoke in the building. They called the elevator operator who then found fire on the 17th floor. The construction workers were quickly evacuated.

    "This was an especially difficult fire," Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta told the media. "We had to get the hoses up to the 17th floor. We had to use ropes to get the hoses up there."

    A department press release stated that the two firefighters became trapped in "maze-like conditions" on the 14th floor of the building.

    Witnesses said that burning pieces of scaffolding floated from the building as the fire raged out several windows and covered lower Manhattan with smoke.

    Firefighter Beddia, of Staten Island, was a 23-year veteran of the department. Graffagnino, was an eight-year veteran and lived in Brooklyn. They were the 1,136th and 1,137th members of the department to die in the line of duty.

    Engine 24 and Ladder 5, located on Avenue of the Americas near Houston Street in SoHo, has suffered several line-of-duty deaths in recent years, including 11 firefighters on September 11. "That house being hit again makes it's all the more devasating" Commissioner Scoppetta said during the press conference. Battalion 2, who also lost three members on September 11, is also housed in that station.

    The fire was declared under control just before 11 p.m., almost eight hours after the fire was reported. Fire and smoke were still visible from the building for several hours as nearby streets were shutdown.

    The seven-alarm fire brought over 250 firefighters from 70 units to the scene in Lower Manhattan.

    The building is on the south side of the World Trade Center site, just across Liberty Street and is also adjacent to FDNY's "10 House" - the home of Engine 10 and Ladder 10.

    Over 700 human remains have been recovered from the building since September 11, when a large section of structure was ripped from the front of the building as the Twin Towers collapsed. As the building is being dismantled, it is undergoing an asbestos abatement. Bloomberg stated the the air quality of the area is being monitored.

    Two firefighters were injured in May when a 35-foot pipe came loose during work at the Deustche Bank and smashed through the 10 House.
    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=39&id=56028

    Courtesy of FDNY
    FDNY Firefighter Robert Beddia, 53, of Engine 24.

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    LODD FDNY Firefighter Joseph Graffagnino, 34, of Ladder 5.

    Courtesy of FDNY


    FDNY Firefighter Joseph Graffagnino, 34, of Ladder 5.

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    Two FDNY Firefighters Killed in High-Rise Fire near World Trade Center

    Two FDNY Firefighters Killed in High-Rise Fire near World Trade Center

    Smoke rises from the Deutsche Bank Building, center, bordering ground zero in New York, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2007.

    AP Photo/Verena Dobnik

    http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...Id=39&id=56028

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    Funeral information for Joseph Graffagnino, Robert Beddia

    Funeral information for Joseph Graffagnino, Robert Beddia


    Updated: 08-20-2007 02:14:02 PM

    Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta will join family, friends and Fire Department members in paying their final respects to Firefighter Joseph Graffagnino of Ladder Company 5 and Firefighter Robert Beddia of Engine Company 24.

    Joseph Graffagnino: Visitation

    Where: Andrew Torregrossa & Sons Funeral Home 1305 79th Street Brooklyn, NY 11228

    When: Tuesday, August 21 and Wednesday, August 22, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

    Procession and Funeral Mass

    Where: St. Ephrem's Church 929 Bay Ridge Parkway Brooklyn, NY 11228

    When: Thursday, August 23 at 10 a.m.



    Robert Beddia Visitation

    Where: Harmon Funeral Home, 571 Forest Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10310

    When: Wednesday, August 22 and Thursday, August 23, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

    Procession and Funeral Mass

    Where: St. Patrick's Cathedral, 460 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022

    When: Friday, August 24 at 9:45 a.m.

    FDNY Photos


    FDNY firefighters Robert Beddia, left, and Joe Graffagnino

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    Criminal Charges Possible in Deadly New York Blaze

    Criminal Charges Possible in Deadly New York Blaze


    Updated: 08-21-2007 11:20:34 AM


    MURRAY WEISS and LEONARD GREENE
    Courtesy of The New York Post

    Authorities yesterday said they are eyeing charges of criminally negligent homicide against the contractors responsible for a faulty water standpipe that contributed to the deaths of two firefighters in a blaze near Ground Zero.

    The stunning development came as city officials revealed that the crucial standpipe in the basement of the Deutsche Bank building was disassembled and missing a piece when firefighters tried to pump water up to the blaze on Saturday.

    "A section of the standpipe was not attached and was lying on the floor nearby," Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement last night.

    "The FDNY's investigation into how the standpipe was disabled is continuing."

    Bloomberg also revealed a sprinkler system was still in place but not functioning, adding the FDNY is investigating that, too.

    During the disastrous inferno, firefighters could be heard screaming, "Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!" as pandemonium reigned when they learned they were without a water source 14 floors above street level and rapidly running out of air.

    The lack of pressure because of the faulty basement pipe meant that water reached only the first floor at the burning site, which had been under demolition after being damaged and contaminated on 9/11.

    One of the companies responsible for helping to demolish the building insisted that its standpipe system had been regularly tested and inspected, according to a city official. It was unclear whether that was the main contractor, Bovis Lend Lease Corp., or John Galt Corp., the asbestos-removal subcontractor whose workers were toiling there at the time.

    So far, authorities have only that contractor's word for it.

    The contractors were asked for the records on what testing was done, when it was performed and the results, but have yet to provide them, sources said.

    City officials have threatened to issue a subpoena to obtain them, a source said.

    "We know the water didn't work," one law-enforcement source said. "So you have to figure out whether they [the contractors] were negligent. If they are, they could possibly face under the law a form of criminally negligent homicide."

    Private companies aren't the only ones under scrutiny - sources said the FDNY is supposed to inspect standpipes at such sites every five years. It was unclear when the last official inspection occurred.

    Bloomberg said the fire started on the 17th floor on the building's south side along Albany Street, next to an exterior elevator.

    It ignited where asbestos-removal workers went after passing through a decontamination area - a place where they "would smoke and extinguish cigarettes," Bloomberg said, quoting witnesses.

    "There was also some electrical equipment at that location, including hot-water heaters for the decon[tamination] showers," the mayor said.

    The probe into the blaze's cause has focused on the seven or eight workers who were boxing asbestos on the floor at the time.

    All of the workers were Eastern European immigrants and heavy chain smokers, sources said. Smoking violates work-site rules.

    Tragic firefighters Joseph Graffagnino and Robert Beddia perished after getting lost on the 14th floor in the blinding maze of smoke, plywood and construction equipment.

    After their oxygen tanks ran out of air, they inhaled smoke and died of cardiac arrest.

    The Bravest had to be taken up to the blaze in small numbers via the outside elevator, run by a construction worker who stayed to help, because there were no usable stairs in the structure until the 12th or 13th floor, sources said.

    "They [firefighters] spun the [standpipe] wheel [on the fire floor], and all they got was air," one official said.

    On the sidewalk, crews were pumping water into the standpipe. But instead of snaking through the pipes to the waiting hoses above, the wasted water spewed into the building's basement.

    There should have been a functioning gauge on the firetruck that measured the water pressure going into the building. It would have shown that, because of the breech, it was not enough to send water as high as the firefighters, sources told The Post.

    It took at least an hour after the firefighters arrived for any water to reach the blaze, sources said.

    At one point, an unidentified firefighter was heard pleading on his radio, "I'm lost. I'm trying to make it on the charged hose line . . . running out of air."

    Shortly after, a supervisor said from inside the building, "I can't account for my men."

    Since September 2003, the city's Department of Buildings has responded to 25 complaints of unsafe conditions at the site, and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued 20 violations.

    Mitch Alvo, an executive with Galt, declined to comment. Bovis Lend Lease referred all inquiries to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. "Safety is our No. 1 priority. I think it's best I leave it at that," said LMDC spokesman Errol Cockfield.

    Additional reporting by Chuck Bennett, C.J. Sullivan, John Mazor and Leonardo Blair

    Republished with permission from The New York Post

    http://cms.firehouse.com/web/online/News/Criminal-Charges-Possible-in-Deadly-New-York-Blaze/46$56053

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