FDNY disciplines 7 in fatal ground zero blaze

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — The city's Fire Department disciplined seven fire commanders Wednesday over mistakes that led to a 2007 blaze at a contaminated ground zero skyscraper that killed two firefighters.

A captain and a deputy chief were stripped of their commands for failing to follow through on orders to make sure the former Deutsche Bank building was properly inspected, said Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scopetta.

Not a single fire inspection of the building took place as required between the time demolition began on March 20, 2007, and the deadly blaze on Aug. 18, 2007, according to a report released last week by the city's Department of Investigation.

"Inspections are a critically important function of the Department and the failure of company officers to perform them — and the failure by supervisors to ensure they are being completed — is a serious breach of their responsibilities," Scopetta said in a statement.

A message left for the uniformed fire officers' union was not immediately returned Wednesday.

The two firefighters died of smoke inhalation while trying to fight the blaze, but their efforts were complicated by a deliberately cut standpipe that supplies water to fire hoses and a confusion of fire hazards, including deactivated sprinklers, blocked stairwells and an air pressure system that created more smoke.

The former 41-story tower near the World Trade Center site is being dismantled since it was contaminated in the Sept. 11 attacks.


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