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City's Fire Unions Accuse FDNY Of Cover-Up At Deutsche Bank Building

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Two months have passed since a fire took the lives of two firefighters at the former Deutsche Bank building downtown and now the unions representing the city's Bravest says the FDNY is sabotaging the investigation into what went wrong.

“It clear that the fire commissioner and his top staff have failed to lead the fire department,” said Uniformed Firefighters Association president Steve Cassidy. “They have participated in a cover-up of the facts as it relates to the pre-fire and the post fire. The New York City Fire Department leadership — Sal Cassano, the chief of the department, and others — have made it clear that they do not want the truth to come out.”

The investigation led by the Manhattan district attorney and the state attorney general is meant to answer questions about what fire officials knew about the condemned building before the fire, why no one knew the staircases inside had been sealed shut and why mandatory inspections of the building were not conducted.

The unions say Cassano gave orders at a staff meeting last week to his chiefs, directing them to stop sending emails about the investigation, telling them to speak about the matter only in person or on the phone. The department categorically denies the charge.

“I don't remember the exact wording, I don't even remember the staff meeting, but it's a ridiculous allegation,” said Cassano. “Nobody was ordered not to use email, we use email every day and Steve Cassidy’s allegation is just not true.

Union officials also say MetroTech is covering up anything that proves it was aware of the building's violations. They also say the three officers who have been re-assigned are scapegoats for the administration.

It has been established that the Fire Department did not conduct routine inspections of the building that could have caught the broken standpipe and sealed staircases that contributed to the deaths of two of the city's Bravest.

The unions are also calling for the resignation of Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta, who says he has no intention of stepping down.

At a fire prevention workshop Tuesday afternoon, Scoppetta denied the charges and says his department is transparent and cooperating with prosecutors.

"This is a fully cooperative effort and if anyone doubts that, speak to the district attorney, speak to the assistant D.A.'s that I have just mentioned,” he said. “This is silliness, this is just foolishness to say that we are doing anything to impede the investigation."

The mayor is backing him up.

“You can rest assured that Nicholas Scoppetta will be our fire commissioner for now, for the next 812 odd days

The fire unions also want the department's building inspection policy changed to deal with buildings undergoing asbestos removal and to better handle the large number of buildings under demolition that face mandatory 15-day inspections.

The FDNY says it is working on it.
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