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Firefighters seeking justice 10 years after deadly NY fire

The main source of water was previously cut during demolition work in the Deutsche Bank fire that killed two firefighters


By FireRescue1 Staff

NEW YORK —Firefighters are still seeking justice 10 years after a fatal blaze that killed two of their colleagues.

ABC7 reported that a fire sparked by a cigarette set the Deutsche Bank building ablaze, killing two firefighters and injuring more than 100.

 A fire that claimed the lives of two firefighters burns in the former Deutsche Bank office building in New York. (Photo/AP)
A fire that claimed the lives of two firefighters burns in the former Deutsche Bank office building in New York. (Photo/AP)

"It's pitch black, choking acrid smoke, it was horrible," former FDNY firefighter Steve Olsen said.

Olsen and the other firefighters battling the flames were unaware that the standpipe, which was the main source of water, was previously cut during demolition work. The firefighters were unable to contain the fire without the water, causing many to be trapped, including firefighters Joe Graffagnino and Robert Beddia.

"Somebody should've gone to jail for not doing their job," Olsen said. "Because that standpipe missing, that's all it was between life and death."

Manhattan’s district attorney led an investigation into construction contractor Bovis Lend Lease and found enough evidence to prosecute them for manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. The DA instead made a deal with the company to protect them from charges if they promised to "willingly acknowledge responsibility for its actions."

Olsen said Bovis Lend Lease did admit responsibility to escape charges, but they denied it in civil court.

"I want them held accountable for what they did to me," Olsen said. "They took my career away."

"Unfortunately, the admissions and statements they made cannot be admissible in civil court pursuant to the court order," Olsen’s lawyer, Sara Director, said. "So what was good to them to get out of a criminal prosecution, they're totally disavowing in a civil case. It's shameless. It's disingenuous."

Olsen and several other firefighters are waiting to see if their case will be allowed to move forward.

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