CBS 2 - September 06, 2007by Marcia Kramer
Union Head Says Dept. Brass 'Whitewashing' Tragedy(CBS) NEW YORK There were stunning new allegations Wednesday surrounding the deadly fire at the Deutsche Bank building, charges that top brass at the FDNY are staging a major cover-up to protect themselves.
It is a bombshell charge -- fire department brass interfering with the Deutsche Bank building investigation to protect themselves.
"The fire department is clear right now that they are doing everything they can to whitewash this tragedy where two firefighters died and 20 others almost perished," said Stephen Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.
Cassidy said fire investigators are being ordered not to ask critical questions about who in the upper echelons of the department are to blame for the fact that there was no pre-fire plan to battle a blaze in the toxic building.
"We've been told that safety command has been ordered specifically to only look at what happened operationally the day of the fire," Cassidy said. "They're not allowed, they've been ordered not to, not to specifically look at anything prior to the day of the fire."
In its defense, the FDNY claims it has others in the agency looking into why there was no plan for the Deutsche Bank. Asked who exactly is investigating, an FDNY spokesman said "the department."
Cassidy says the only way to get the truth is for the Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau to subpoena FDNY Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and other top officers before a grand jury.
"A real investigation will go to the top of the New York City fire department," Cassidy said.
Cassidy also questioned the actions of William Siegel, now a top aide to commissioner Scoppetta. In March 2005 Siegel wrote the smoking gun memo that demanded the Deutsche Bank building be inspected every week.
"The person who wrote the memo is now at the top echelon of the New York City fire department," Cassidy said. "It's not possible; itâ€™s not believable that the people he works with did not know what he wrote and why he wrote it."
A fire department spokesman said charges of a whitewash are "nonsense." And that the fire department wants answers to the same questions being asked by the union.
The Manhattan DA declined to comment on whether Commissioner Scoppetta and any of his top advisers would receive subpoenas.