NY 1 - September 06, 2007More than two weeks after the fire at the Deutsche Bank building that claimed the lives of two of New York's Bravest, the firefighters union is accusing the FDNY of not properly handling the investigation. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy said Wednesday that the FDNY has dropped the ball when it comes to investigating the seven-alarm fire that killed firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffignino.
Cassidy wants the city's Department of Investigation to launch its own probe and target the top brass of the FDNY.
"It is clear again that the New York City Fire Department cannot conduct an investigation into the Deutsche Bank tragedy," said Cassidy.
Cassidy says a leak by a senior fire official to a Daily News reporter about how much air was left in Beddia's air tank when he died is proof that the FDNY investigation is compromised. Cassidy says information like that would only be known to the fire safety command, whose officers are investigating the fire and who report directly to the commissioner.
He's asking the DOI to find the source of the leak, and find out exactly what top fire officials knew about the building before the fire, since he says he's gotten no answers to questions about why routine inspections on the condemned building were not done.
Cassidy also wants to know why the fire safety command has been told to focus its investigation only on the August 18th fire and not the circumstances leading up to it.
"Two years ago, nobody can pretend that they didn't know what the Deutsche Bank was, or why is was a toxic or why it was being turned down. This is one of the most publicized buildings in the city of New York in the wake of 9/11," said Cassidy. "So what did they do? Why didn't they do the things they were required to do? And he hasn't asked any of his top people those questions."
Cassidy's comments come amid simultaneous investigations into the fire by the Manhattan district attorney's office, the attorney general's office and the FDNY.
Sources familiar with the investigation say top FDNY brass has been questioned - but not under oath.
Fire officials say the fire safety command is supposed to investigate only the fire and that a separate investigation into what happened before the fire will be conducted by its internal investigation unit, the Bureau of Investigation and Trials. They say that investigation has not yet begun since - for now - the Manhattan district attorney's office is taking the lead.