Highly Critical 'Black Sunday' FDNY Report Out

(New York- WABC, Sept. 13, 2005) - A secret FDNY report that is highly critical of the way the department responded to a fire last winter is out. It was a fire that cost the lives of two firefighters and critically injured four others.

The families of those killed today read the report for the first time. The Investigators' Jim Hoffer is here with the story.

Eight months have past since the fire that revealed to a city how the finest did not have the best equipment - no ropes to escape the deadly fire. Now the FDNY's own investigation blames that and a lot more for the loss of life.

It will forever be remembered as Black Sunday - and now a highly-critical FDNY report into the double-fatal fire reveals how so many things went wrong on that day. Two firefighters died and four were critically injured when fire and smoke in an illegally partitioned apartment forced them to jump from a fourth floor window.

Jeanette Meyran, Firefighter's Widow: "You have to envision that it turned badly in seconds."

This FDNY document details a long list of mistakes made from the top brass down to the front line. Its key findings include:

  • Failure to provide firefighters with escape ropes.
  • Failure to update operational procedures.
  • Inadequate training.
  • Failure to communicate level of danger to command.
  • Failure to thaw two frozen hydrants.
  • Water loss in main hose line.
  • Partitioned walls.

Jeanette Meyran, Firefighter's Widow: "Loss of water was a major factor - you can't put a fire out without water."

One of the firefighters' widows says she doesn't need an 82-page report to tell her why her three children no longer have a father.

Jeanette Meyran, Firefighter's Widow: "Because my husband didn't have a life-saving rope. His rope was taken away nine years ago. He was not happy about that and they were never reissued."

But the report - as painful as it might be - will hopefully lead to changes that will prevent another Black Sunday from ever happening again.

Glenn Corbett, John Jay College: "If it means changing policies, changing equipment, changing training - I think those are all things that not only the New York City Fire Department can learn from, but other fire departments across the country."

Professor Corbet says the fire department does deserve credit for such a self-critical report. We've also learned late today that the FDNY is still testing rope systems. It hopes to begin distributing them to fire fighters beginning next month.

(Copyright 2005 WABC-TV)