2007_08_deutsch4.jpgThere are many questions surrounding Saturday's Deutsche Bank building fire that took the lives of two firefighters.

  • Were firefighters using outdated information? WABC 7 says that a FDNY report, which is used by fire commanders for planning how they will attack the fire, indicated that the building had 38 floors (when it was really 26) and that the standpipe was working (it wasn't connected).
  • Did the FDNY ignore post-9/11 advice? The NY Times reports that a McKinsey consultant had noted too many firefighters entered the World Trade Center on September 11 before realizing the scale of danger, and perhaps too many men (100 firefighters) had entered the Deutsche Bank building on Saturday.
  • Did Deutsche Bank landlords/contractors fail to test standpipes? The Post reports that water pressure tests are supposed to take place every five years, but the last was in 1996.
  • Did the Department of Buildings inspectors miss something? The Post also reports that inspectors were on site the day before the fire and that the standpipe was visually inspected.
  • Did the FDNY fail to inspect the building? The Daily News says the Fire Department was supposed to conduct inspections every 15 days and that the inspections would have included looking over the standpipe system.

It is, as the News calls it, a blame game. The Manhattan DA's office has opened up a criminal investigation into the fire, but yesterday Mayor Bloomberg said, "at this point, there's no reason for anybody to think in terms of criminal charges or anything else."

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which owns the building, said that contractor Bovis Lend Lease, who is dismantling the building, may be dismissed after the investigation, if BLL is found to be at fault. A worker from BLL's subcontractor, John Galt Corporation, told the Polish Daily News, "They were also doing everything they could to demolish Deutsche Bank as fast as they could and skimping on safety measures," and he said that workers frequently smoked in the building, which was filled with chemicals.

And yesterday, visitation of firefighter Joseph Graffagnino began; a fellow firefighter told the Post, "From Day One to forever, Joey will always be remembered as always having a smile, always happy and the guy who brought the bagels." Visitation continues today and his funeral is tomorrow. There is visitation of firefighter Robert Beddia today and tomorrow, with funeral on Friday. Details here.

Photograph of the fire by Marianne O'Leary on Flickr