2 Philadelphia Firefighters Killed In Kensington Warehouse Inferno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Two Philadelphia firefighters were killed early this morning while battling a massive warehouse fire in Kensington. Two other firefighters were injured.

A posting on the Facebook page for Engine 7, Ladder 10 has identified the firefighters who lost their lives:

“It is with deep regret that the Fire Commissioner Ayers announces the death of Lt. Robert Neary and FF Daniel Sweeney, both from Ladder 10, who were killed in the line of duty. Lt Neary and FF Sweeney died on Box 361 Front and York Streets, which was dispatched at 0313 hrs on April 9th, 2012.”

Neary was 59 years old and Sweeney was 25 years old.

According to a statement released by the firefighters’ union, Neary had 38 years with the Philadelphia Fire Department after serving three years in the Philadelphia Police Department.  He leaves behind a wife and three children.

Sweeney, according to the union statement, joined the fire department in 2006 and is the son of a retired Philadelphia fire captain.

“We are asking for prayers for the family. We are asking for everybody to be supportive,” Philadelphia fire commissioner Lloyd Ayers said at a morning press conference.

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The statement from the firefighters’ union provided additional information on the two firefighters who were seriously injured: Francis Chaney and Pat Nally.  Nally is a five-year veteran, according to the union, and was listed in critical but stable condition.  Chaney is an eight-year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department and was listed in stable condition.

As of mid-morning, Philadelphia fire crews were still on the scene of the fire that started in a large warehouse at Jasper and York Streets in Kensington and quickly spread to at least four neighboring homes and several businesses.

Calls for the fire came in at about 3:13 a.m. and the fire quickly went to five alarms before being placed under control at about 5:21 a.m.

Firefighters were in the adjacent furniture store at 5:50 a.m. after the fire was placed under control doing a routine check when the walls around them collapsed, trapping the five firemen. Authorities said one of the firefighters was able to “self extricate,” but Neary, Sweeney, Nally and Chaney, had to be pulled from the rubble by fellow firemen. Neary was pronounced dead at the scene and Sweeney died at Temple University Hospital. Officials said medics performed CPR on Nally who was then stabilized at the hospital and is listed in guarded condition in the ICU. Chaney was also transported to Temple where he was treated and released.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who is out of town, said is statement, “This is a tremendous loss for their families and the City of Philadelphia. My prayers go out to their families and to the Philadelphia Fire Department whose members have lost two of their brothers.”

Ayers said during this time of tragedy, his department comes together as one.

“We come together as a band of brothers and sisters. We support each other, we stay together — firefighters, paramedics, officers,” said Ayers. “We’re getting a lot of support. Just as we give service to our citizens, they’re serving us right now.”

The cause of fire is still under investigation by the fire marshal’s office.

pfd ambulances mikedunn 2 Philadelphia Firefighters Killed In Kensington Warehouse Inferno

(The bodies of two firefighters are loaded aboard two Philadelphia Fire Department medical units for transport from Temple Hospital in North Philadelphia to the medical examiner's office in West Philadelphia. Credit: Mike Dunn)


This is the first line-of-duty death for the Philadelphia Fire Department in more than six years.  The last time the department lost multiple members was in August 2004, when two firefighters were killed while battling a house fire.

Residents from 31 homes in the area of the fire were evacuated to a shelter at BVM Church, at B Street and Lehigh Avenue.

There were some lingering power outages in the area, and three Kensington schools were closed due to the power outages.

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Late Monday evening, David Feuerstein of the New York-based law firm Herrick, released the following statement on behalf of the firm’s client, York Street Property Development LP:

“This is an unspeakable tragedy. Our condolences and heartfelt prayers go out to the families of Lieutenant Neary and Firefighter Sweeney, and to their grieving colleagues at the Philadelphia Fire Department. We are cooperating, and will continue to do so, with all law enforcement and government agencies as they investigate this fire.”

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One Comment

  1. Catfish Bob says:

    I live near a station, and see the guys coming and going all the time. Easy to forget they are only flesh and blood. Until something like this happens.

    Sympathies to all their loved ones.

  2. John says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the firefighter’s families. Hopefully, this tragedy will force the media to re-address Mayor Nutter’s policy of browning out fire stations.

  3. Debbi says:

    May G-d bless the Firemen and give their families the courage to carry on.
    Unreal how the kiss ass Mayor is out of town worrying about what is going on in another city, when he cannot be bothered to care about the Firefighters of Philadelphia. These brave men and women have always been an afterthought to Michael Nutter! They have been working without a contract for over two years, they struggle to raise children and take care of their families without a contract for over two years absolutely no cost of living increase. It was the brave firefighters who fought that fire last night, to save others and to protect their homes from going up in flames. Yet this clown named NUTTER was elected again to run our fine city is out of town running his mouth, only to talk in circles. His child does not have to worry that her parents may not come home from work today because they ran into a burning building to save strangers, or went into and abandoned building that should have been torn down years ago, to make sure that there were not any homeless people living in it. Our firefighters are working there shifts and then often going to a second job on their days off because they have to find a way to pay the bills. They worry about keeping food on the table and how to pay for college for their children. Our firefighters do not get overtime to sit in court day after day just to watch another criminal walk. Our firefighters do not get overtime to babysit our streets because a bunch of teenagers want to beat someone up because it reached 85 degrees and they do not have air-conditioning , so they run the streets and look for trouble. Our firefighters are not allowed to have overtime, no our mayor likes to punish them by closing firehouses. Our firefighters cannot get hurt nor have an accident, they have to worry where the mayor and his puppet the fire commissioner will transfer them to.
    It’s time for the citizens of this city stand up put pressure on Michael Nutter to take care of the Philadelphia Firefighters! Give our Brave Men and Women a contract! Treat them with the same respect that you treat the Philadelphia Police Department! This tragedy NEVER should have happened! That building has been abandoned, the owner owed thousands in back taxes. Why was that building not torn down, if it was on YOUR street Michael Nutter we ALL know it would have been a community garden years ago! Stand up Philadelphia and Insist that the Mayor take care of the brave and dedicated men and women of the Philadelphia Fire Department!

  4. knbk says:

    This is so sad, every man and woman out there on the PFD is our thoughts and prayers. The firefighters are slighted in every way, it is so unjust. These deaths are terrible, as are the dozens who are seriously injured each year and never get any recognition. These men and women have no idea if they are going to survive, and neither do the families that they leave at home. I hope and pray this opens the eyes of someone bigger than our mayor and poor excuse for a Commissioner. Please lets not lose sight of the injured firefighters either.

  5. RJ says:

    God Bless them.

  6. Cheryl says:


    How dare you. What gave you such a bitter taste towards the police persons in our ciry and throughout the county. Every day anyone who is protecting you goes out, could be their last – ‘cops’ included. Like the other bloggers, my prayers and thanks go out to each family.

  7. Tina says:

    While watching the breaking news on the Kensington fire, I cannot believe how this city is covering their ass on yet another deadly mistake caused by their negligence. What a disgrace that it could not have been all about the men who lost their lives and the families that have to live without them, How disrespectful that they were merely mentioned in the “special report”. They focused more on how the city didn’t “drop the ball” and how the city gave citations on the numerous complaints regarding this building. It is amazing that when you get a parking ticket in this city you are only given 15 days before penalties apply and after 3 tickets your car is booted . Is this because it takes little effort to do this and a minimal amount of work?. Here we have a dangerous building with numerous violations and it is given an extended period of time to comply. Well this grace period that was given cost people their lives and has injured others. And all this city is worried about is covering their ass yet again. You should be ashamed!!!! I would just like the families to know that there are people out here who do feel your loss and deeply appreciate the work that the firefighters and policemen do for us. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the families of our dedicated heroes, I am so very sorry for your loss.

  8. Debbie says:

    My heart goes out to the families of the fallen firefighters as well as the men who were injured. They reported probably at 6:00pm Easter Sunday for “night work” and little did they know they would not go home to their loved ones again. The fire community worldwide has been changed today – We are simply sad. As an adult daughter of a retired firefighter, my life has been spent in the company of these selfless men – during happy family gatherings as well as funerals. They are brothers to the bitter, heartbreaking end. A stronger bond does not exist in the professional world.

  9. Lois says:

    My heartfelt prayers go out to the families who are suffering these losses.

  10. Debbie Keller says:

    May God see their families through this tragedy…My heart goes out to all…So sorry for your loss

  11. Phil Bowdren says:

    May God Bless our Fallen Heroes, and welcome them at Heaven’s gate…

    And I sincerely hope that Mayor Nutter and Commissioner Ayers lose a lot of sleep over this tragic event… when are they going to stop undermanning the Fire Department? Both of them need to go, and go now.

    Phil Bowdren
    Philadelphia Police Department – Retired

    1. dave says:

      Thank you Phil! When I first read about the fire this AM around 10:00 I wondered how long it would take the first person to start to blame this whole tragic event on that fiscal responsibility being demonstrated by the leaders of the city. Now I know- approximately 4 hours per the timestamp on your comment. As a retired police officer, why don’t you take less of the extravagant retirement benefits you so happily enjoy and contribute it back to the city so that the mayor and commissioner don’t have to make the tough choices they are making?…I didn’t think so!

      My condolences to the families involved.

  12. Georgiann says:

    The families of the firefighters who lost their lives today will and has effective all of the people of Philadelphia, and all our prayers for the families and the brothers and sisters of the department will be said for them all.

    Father of all your children ask for belessing for those whom died today doing what they did and Lord, Please welcome them into Your Kingdom. May all the souls of the dparted rest in peace.

  13. constance kelley says:

    Thank you, Lt. Neary and FF Sweeney. Yours is the ultimate sacrifice. The sorrow felt by those who love you, is tinged with pride; the pride you had in your job as a first responder. You now rest in peace. I pray for healing and peace for your family, friends, and fellow firefighters.

  14. Kevin says:

    Linda Have you seen a Philadelphia Police Officer actually turn his or her head to a crime? Or did you jump on someone elses conversation and post it here. I know you very well, you couldn’t do either job of a police officer or firefighter. Your Mucho respect is about conditions.

  15. Pat says:

    My prayers go out to the families who lost their loved ones in this devastating fire. May God be with them and get them through this tragedy. Also I pray for the families whose loved ones were injured.

  16. Michael Newman says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of these 2 fire fighters who payed the ultiment sacrafice this morning. May the other 3 fire fighters have a speedy recovery and get well soon.

  17. Linda D Bryant says:




    1. Phil Bowdren says:

      Ms. Bryant, I spent 29 years of my life as a Philadelphia Police Officer, and worked side by side with some great Fire Fighters over the years. I find it tragic that in one sentence you honor our Fallen Firefighters, and in the next bash our Fallen Police Officers, as if the loss of their life meant less… Philadelphia’s Uniform Forces (Police, Fire and EMS) serve TOGETHER, and support each other. If you have an axe to grind with the Police Department, using the deaths of brave Fire Fighters isn’t the way to make your point…

    2. starcats says:

      Linda, you obviously have some serious issues. This is a time to recognize the fallen, not grind an axe. And yes, peace officers do die in the line of duty as do firefighters, soldiers, and so many others who decide to take the risk that deserve our respect.

      Go get he help you so obviously need. And may God bless these men taken so tragically.

      1. Nancy says:

        very well put starcats

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