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Deutsche Memo Was Ignored

New York Post | August 30, 2007
LORENA MONGELLI GINGER ADAMS OTIS and LEONARD GREENE

The highest levels of the FDNY knew about but ignored a smoking-gun memo that outlined a plan to battle blazes at the toxic Deutsche Bank site where two firefighters died this month, officials said yesterday.

On April 6, 2005, two weeks after a battalion chief offered a series of pre-fire recommendations to a division commander, the FDNY's top Manhattan official - or one of his representatives - toured the site in a visit coordinated by the department's operations bureau.

Despite the visit, and the dangerous conditions they witnessed, the recommendations for weekly inspections were ignored. In fact, no FDNY inspection was performed until nearly four months later and regular check-ups were suspended.

On Aug. 18, a blaze in the under-demolition high-rise killed firefighters Joseph Graffagnino and Robert Beddia, who ran out of oxygen and were trapped without water due to a broken standpipe. Fire officials admitted there was no plan of attack for the fire.

The department's ax fell on three senior officers, including a division commander, Deputy Chief Richard Fuerch - who received the memo from Battalion Chief William Siegel - Battalion Chief John McDonald and Engine 10 Capt. Peter Bosco.

But Fuerch's supporters in the Uniformed Fire Officers Association said he is being scapegoated and the blame goes all the way to the top of the department.

"I think it goes right to the fire commissioner's desk," said union President John McDonnell, a battalion chief, referring to Nicholas Scoppetta.

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