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Firefighters Union: Photos Show No Collapse Zone Around Fatal Kensington Warehouse Fire

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By Mike DeNardo and Walt Hunter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia firefighters union says it has photos that show there was no collapse zone established around the Kensington warehouse fire that killed two firefighters. The city says the union is playing politics.

Lt. Robert Neary and Firefighter Dan Sweeney, both from Ladder Company 10, died after the wall of the burning vacant warehouse collapsed onto a nearby furniture store in which they were working. Two other firefighters, trapped in the debris, were rescued and are recovering.

The city has said a collapse zone was established at the site of the fatal fire, but at a City Hall news conference on Thursday, leaders of Firefighters Local 22 said their photographs indicate otherwise.

According to union recording secretary Mike Bresnan, the fire department’s own training manual calls for a collapse zone to be marked with rope or banner tape. But Bresnan says the photos don’t show any rope or tape.

“They’re saying they had a collapse zone,” Bresnan said. “Did they chalk it in the street? Maybe the water washed it away? I don’t know. I mean, they’re calling us liars, but everybody that we talked to that was on that fire that night seen nothing.”

Responding to the union’s allegations, Mayor Michael Nutter’s office issued a statement that reads in part: “The leaders of Local 22 have once again dishonored two fallen heroes. Their real issue is anger over not having a contract. We’ve made it very clear that there was a collapse zone, that a top flight command structure was in place and that safety officers were on the scene.”

Union officials say they are turning over the picture, along with three others released last week, to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health which, along with a grand jury, is investigating the deadly fire.

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