Three Bodies Found a Week After Bronx Fire
That was the New York News headline last week when construction workers called into demolish a fire damaged structure in University Heights discovered three corpses. FDNY had attended a fire there days earlier. The building is being described as “vacant” and “occupied by squatters.”
FDNY apparently conducted a limited search before commencing exterior operations. The press quotes Building Department personnel and citizens, the gist of which is that FDNY did not do their job by failing to charge into a vacant building where collapse was a concern.
FDNY has suffered their share of fatalities and serious burn injuries during the course of searches that were effectively obligatory and doomed to failure before they began. The automatic search of ALL buildings regardless of their status and fire condition could as easily lead to a decoration or a death.
FDNY spokesperson Jim Long said, “We are not putting any of our members in danger…”
That is, of course, an overstatement but limiting the search based on the status of the building and the likelihood of victim survival is nothing more than mature decision-making.
The very unfortunate fact that there were fatalities is not the fault of FDNY. It merely underscores the point that vacant and abandoned properties are illicitly used. The city has the capability to intervene to ensure the safety of the squatters by offering shelter or razing the building.
Blaming FDNY for declining to conduct reckless searches is justice subverted.
On a larger point, as America’s fire department of note, so many other departments look to them for guidance on process and procedure.
Look hard on this one and take heed of a job done right.