Update at 8:15 pm, May 8, 2012 with Comment by IAFF Local 628 President Barry B. McGoey
Thirteen residents were displaced and a few pets were killed in a late afternoon fire that consumed the third floor and part of the second floor of what is known as a 2½ story multifamily dwelling on April 29, 2012. It would take almost four hours to extinguish the fire that burst into flames that week. The fire demanded the attention of 53 firefighters and 12 vehicles. Mutual Aid was afforded by the New Rochelle Fire Department who were called to man the Yonkers Firehouses until the return of the YFD from fighting the Crotty Avenue fire. Two Yonkers Firefighters suffered steam burns that demanded medical attention diagnosed as not life threatening. A third person was said to have twisted his ankle.
The circumstances seemed straight forward but not yet reported are the 24 Firefighters that have put in for at minimum 5 hours in overtime for medical attention to the Crotty Avenue fire. The bill for the medical attention incurred will ring over $5,000 in overtime.
Were the medical attention legitimately required, the $5,000 plus overtime incurred would not be an issue. If approximately one out of every two people, deduced from the 24 requiring medical attention and the ancillary overtime incurred, out of 53 people responding to that fire, something is evidently very wrong.
At issue is whether the deputy chief on duty was sufficiently knowledgeable enough of firefighting to ascertain whether it was prudent to maintain the Firefighters kkep their effort when one of every two firefighters would need medical attention thereafter. Is he not responsible to equally be concerned over the life and limb of his men as he is demanded to protect property? How can he place his men in harms way? Further, if the fire was of such intensity, is there no fail-safe measure that would permit the Firefighters to contain the fire from spreading beyond its initial imprint rather than putting our Firefighters in harm’s way? When does recognition reveal that life and limb outweigh property, when property can no longer be salvaged?
Perhaps the deputy chief did understand the fire that challenged the firefighters on the scene. If the deputy chief was knowledgeable of the challenge before him and the Firefighters, are Yonkersites now to infer that YFD is not sufficiently trained to do the job they are tasked?
This reporter cannot believe there was a lack of leadership or oversight of the blazing fire at Crotty Avenue. Further, I cannot believe the YFD is ill trained or deficient in equipment to have fought this fire.
The logic of the questions conjectured above are the subterfuge, the smoke and mirrors tactics that an individual, a group, or a larger body of Yonkers Firefighters conjured up to express their disgust for their not having concluded a new contract with the new administration.
While the pissing match quietly takes place between Mayor Mike Spano and his surrogates and the Yonkers Fire Department, life and limb is held in balance and the Yonkers taxpayer foots the bill at the games the big boys play.
Why is Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano’s office silent over this issue? Why does the Yonkers Fire Department maintain its silence over their issues and concerns?
How many more ploys of deceit will Yonkersites have to endure before all the unions and the Spano Administration begin their respective efforts to find fiscal accommodation through negotiations focused toward a prudent and fiscal end?
A spokesperson for Mayor Mike Spano’s Administration has advised it is studying the Crotty Avenue incident, aftermath, and its implications.
The lack of scrutiny of firefighting throughout the city has evidently been permitted excess by this example due to the lack of oversight by internal mechanisms of scrutiny and because media has been kicked to the curb and become impotent in the process. Shame on us all.
Yonkers Office of Emergency Management and the American Red Cross were instrumental in finding housing for the displaced residents at a makeshift reception center that was situated at St. John The Baptist Parish on Yonkers Avenue.
ADDENDUM made at 8:15 pm – May 8, 2012:
I spoke to IAFF Local 628 President Barry B. McGoey yesterday. We focused on what I believed were the most important issues one need ask when men are sent into the throes of possible death, being injured temporarily or for the balance of their lives. I did not believe the stalemate between the Yonkers Firefighters and the Spano Administration were making headway. That was evident by what I surmised was the telling of the story above.
Even so, Mr McGoey believes I have misunderstood the circumstances that were confronted at the scene of the fire and that the inferences I made were not on target. His perspective is most pertinent and the integrity of his words reveal his sincerity and relevance.
They are as follows:
“After our conversation yesterday I thought you had gained some better insight into the recent fire on Crotty Avenue. Then I read your coverage of the fire on the Yonkers Tribune. I must have been wrong in my assessment of your understanding of the fire scene and the impact of the fire on the Yonkers Firefighters, several of whom were injured and required emergency medical care.
“As I told you yesterday, this was not just a run-of-the-mill small fire. This was a fire that appears to have started in the rear of the building on an upper floor while no one was home. The fire was not reported to the fire department until it had grown to a significant size within the structure and was noticed by neighbors and passersby. By the time the first fire companies were on the scene there was heavy fire on the second and third stories.
“Not knowing if there were any trapped occupants, the fire companies began an aggressive interior fire attack while simultaneously conducting searches for victims and engaging in forcible entry and roof ventilations. Each of these various operations is very laborious and requires many firefighters acting in a coordinated manner. Early on in the fire, interior firefighters could hear screams of some type from within the structure. It was later determined that those screams and noises had been made from numerous pets who perished in the smoke, heat and fire. But at the time, the firefighters did not know if they were from people trapped within the structure and within moments of death.
“As firefighters outside had to deal with hydrant issues and water supply problems, interior firefighters were making their way to the seat of the fire to begin extinguishment operations. Two firefighters were attempting to make entry into an upper floor apartment when they were met with a heavy wall of fire. The firefighters used all efforts to make some headway in fighting the fire but they were unsuccessful and their air supply was running very low. The flames and heat became so intense that both firefighters had to back out immediately. One of the firefighters actually had to jump down the stairs head first, landing on top of other firefighters who were making their way up to the same floor. The second firefighter was able to seek refuge at a nearby window and was able to exit the fire floor by using a ground ladder that was being hoisted up by other fire crews who had responded to the fire scene. Thank God both of these firefighters who "bailed out" of the fire were not killed and suffered only minor steam burns and other minor injuries. Attached are two photographs where you can see the second firefighter in the front second floor window as a ground ladder is being raised to rescue him. You can see in the photographs that smoke was billowing out of all of the windows at this time and the conditions inside were very dangerous.
“Yonkers Firefighters always give at least 100% when there is a structure fire and lives are in jeopardy. In cases like this fire where there were reports of screaming from within the building and then calls that two firefighters were in distress, all of the firefighters on scene gave it their all. In such cases, even firefighters can overextend themselves and do things that would otherwise be undoable without the adrenaline boost that comes with calls of distress. As a result, numerous members became dehydrated, exhausted, twisted ankles, strained joints, and otherwise required emergency medical care during this "crisis period" and during the entire multi-hour operation.
“It should be noted that there were strong winds on the day of the fire which fanned the fire and allowed it to grow at an even greater rate than normal. In addition to extinguishing the fire, the firefighters also prevented the fire from extending to the houses on either side.
“I hope the above answers some of your concerns and that the photographs prove just how dangerous the job of a Yonkers firefighter really is.” – Barry B. McGoey, President, IAFF Local 628, Yonkers Firefighters
Final note from this reporter: “The Spano Administration must engage in meaningful negotiations that will lead to an accommodation serving Yonkers, Yonkersites, Yonkers Firefighters, and the Spano Administration.
“The telling of this incident and the enormity of the issues brought forward in the aftermath of fighting this fire are issues of enormous concern for the safety of our Firefighters, the protection of property, the demand for the most up to date training skills and equipment needed to keep the aforementioned functioning, and the culmination of contractual agreements that will afford everyone peace of mind.” – Hezi Aris