City Council Hearings Into Firefighter Deaths
By Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nearly 18 months after a vacant, burning Kensington warehouse collapsed, killing Philadelphia Fire Lieutenant Robert Neary and firefighter Daniel Sweeney, and injuring two fellow firefighters, a unanimous vote in City Council signaled the start of a new search for answers and reform.
Councilman James Kenney called for the hearings, following an exclusive CBS 3 story revealing for the first time findings in a preliminary report by NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Among those findings: the dilapidated building, frequented by prostitutes and drug users, had 65 people living inside and had been reported nine times to the City’s Department of Licenses and Inspections prior to the fire.
NIOSH also found that, despite collapses that began almost as soon as firefighters arrived early on the morning of April 9,2012, the four firefighters were not ordered to leave a furniture store adjoining the building, the building’s wall crashing down with deadly results.
Mark McDonald, Press Secretary for Mayor Michael Nutter, tells CBS 3 the city will work with council.
There’s no word yet on when the hearings will be held or when NIOSH will issue its final report, which will include recommendations.
It is known, however, that early Sunday morning, friends, family and fellow fighters will travel to Emmittsburg, Maryland, where the two firefighters will be honored at the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial.