fdnylogo.jpgHigh-ranking firefighters in the field are claiming that the regulations that are supposed to keep FDNY members and the public safe are simply not feasible and rarely enforced. In the wake of the deaths of firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino during the Deutsche Bank fire in August when a standpipe to provide water to firehoses was found disconnected, it became clear that the FDNY itself had not inspected the building properly as required by law. All building and demolition sites are supposed to be inspected by the fire department every 15 days. The New York Times interviewed a number of chiefs, company commanders, and union officials who said that not only isn't that standard not upheld, but it would literally be impossible to comply with, and the top brass at the department know it.

One problem is that there is no system for the city to notify the fire department what buildings are going up or coming down, so the only effective alternative inspectors have is to drive around a neighborhood looking for construction or demolition. Additionally, if a building is doing asbestos abatement or decontamination, inspectors don't have the protective gear that would allow them to venture inside to examine a building's interior.

The interviews also revealed that department personnel was already hard-pressed just to complete required annual inspections of all buildings that house children and medical patients. With the building boom the city has undergone in recent years, chiefs are complaining that they simply do not have the manpower to comply with an every-15-day inspection policy. And while blame for the lack of inspection seemed to fall on a captain and two officers who were reassigned during investigations of the Deutsche Bank building fire, upper echelon officers in the department must have known about the lack of compliance. Regular reports on inspections are supposed to be submitted to headquarters throughout the year, and presumably that was not being done.

Many of the people interviewed were speaking out because they feel that Capt. Peter Bosco and the two other officers who were reassigned after the fire for failing to inspect the building are being scapegoated for not following a policy that no one is expected to follow. Retired FDNY Chief Stanley Dawe is incredulous that headquarters could not know that a 15-day inspection policy was being ignored for months at the Deutsche Bank building. As quoted in the Times: "Were they not reading the reports? Were they not analyzing the reports correctly? Was the information that inspections were not being conducted included in the reports but hidden in the numbers?” We suggest reading the full story.