“I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a firefighter The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which the firefighter has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

-Chief Edward F. Croker FDNY circa 1910

Deutsche Bank Fire

Deutsche Bank Fire

In memory  of FF Joseph Graffagnino, L-5 detailed to E-24 (Posthumously promoted to Lieutenant) and FF Robert Beddia, E-24.

On September 11th, 2001, the Deutsche Bank located at 130 Liberty Street, suffered severe damage from the collapse of the World Trade Center and never reopened for business purpose. August 31st, 2004, Lower Manhattan Development Corp assumed ownership and Asbestos abatement and deconstruction was to take place at different locations within the building. No demolition permit for 130 Liberty was filed or issued, however, a series of alteration permits were filed and issued by NYCDOB. 

On Saturday August 18th, 2007, at 1536hrs, a Telephone Alarm reporting a fire on the scaffolding at 88 Greenwich Street, Box 0047 was transmitted. Initially 2 Engines, 2 Trucks and the Battalion were assigned, but due to subsequent numerous calls, Manhattan Dispatch filled out the assignment to 4 Engines, 2 Trucks, Rescue, Squad, Battalion & HazMat 1 (E-10, E-4, E-6, E-7, L-10, TL-15, Bn-1, Rescue 1, Squad 18). 10 Truck officer transmitted the 10-75 for heavy smoke from the upper floors of the Deutsche Bank with the corrected address of 130 Liberty Street. At 1541hrs, 10 Truck upgraded the box to a 2nd Alarm for fire through the skin of the high rise. At 1547hrs, Battalion 1 transmitted the 10-76(HiRise Commercial fire). Size up was 26 story hi-rise office building182x182 occupying 1 city block and as previously mentioned, undergoing asbestos abatement & demolition. The building was built in 1974, 38 stories tall prior to demolition. All interior elevators were out of service & exterior construction elevators were used to gain access to upper floors. The standpipe was reported by construction workers to be a 'dry system', however when fed from the street, water did not reach the fire floor. It was found that a section was missing in the sub level A. 

The 1st hoseline had to be stretched up the exterior of the building. It took 67 minutes from the initial transmission of alarm until a charged hoseline was in position on the 15th floor manned by Engine 24. The delay in water allowed the fire to extend from the 17th floor to the top 26th floor, also downward to the 16th, 15th, 14th, 12th & 5th floors. 

FF Graffagnino was found unconscious on the 14th floor at 1701hrs. He was removed to Downtown Beekman Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. FF Beddia was found unconscious on the 14th floor at 1710hrs. He was also removed to Downtown Beekman Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

FDNY BFI determined the fire to have been started by careless discard of smoking material on the southside of the 17th floor in the decontamination area. 

The following building conditions contributed to the death of the 2 firefighters:

The sprinkler system required by code was out of service.

The standpipe system required by code was out of service.

The means of egress (A & B Stairways) required by code were blocked by sealed wooden platforms that prevented members from dropping down below the fire.

The Stairway enclosures required by code had either been compomised or removed at several locations.

Timeline:

1536hrs: Phone Alarm Recieved

1537hrs: Box 0047 transmitted:

1540hrs: 10 Truck transmitted 10-75 for heavy smoke from upper floors

1541hrs: 10 Truck transmitted 2nd Alarm for heavy fire through the skin.

1541hrs: 10 Engine officer orders ECC to supply siamese on Albany St. This stretch took aprox 15 minutes due to distance around construction trailers.

1542hrs: 10 Truck reports fire on multiple floors and scaffolding, units to use caution.

1544hrs: 10 Engine enters elevator operated by Construction Elevator operator. Operator informs the boss the standpipe was dry. Upon arrival to 15th floor, conditions were clear. E-10 officer noted B stairs there was no outlet & 16th floor was blocked off by wooden platform sealed in plastic. He dropped down to the 14th floor & again, couldn't find an outlet.

1547hrs: Battalion 1 arrived, transmitted the 10-76.

1547hrs: Squad 18, Engine 6 & Rescue 1 arrive. Engine 6 and Squad 18 assist Engine 10 ECC stretching to the siamese.

1548hrs: Engine 10 contacted Ladder 10 looking for saws to get access to the sealed wooden platforms. Ladder 10, 15 & Engine 7 ascend in the other contruction elevator. Ladder 8 arrived & was ordered to bring saws to the 15th floor.

1548hrs: Engine 10 observed fire started to drop to the 15th floor decon area. He asked his ECC status of the siamese, which he was still having trouble reaching.

1548hrs: Box 9031 & 9032 transmitted, bringing in Brooklyn units to lower Manhattan.

1559hrs: Engine 10 ECC advised he was supplying water to the standpipe system. No water reached the 15th floor. (It was later discovered a section of this standpipe was missing.)

1601hrs: Both A & B stairway is now filled with smoke. 

1604hrs; 10 Truck reported "We gained entry to the 16 floor. Search Rope is being deployed. The search is going slow due to the fact that we may have holes in the floor. I do not believe that the fire is on 16. It may be on the 17th." 

1607hrs: Engine 4 officer made a transmission to Battalion 1 that they may  need to drop a line down the exterior of the building. 

1607hrs: Rescue transmitting to Battalion 2 "This is Rescue 1, We got up 2 floors above where I saw you. I believe it's 17. We could hear a good body of fire crackling up here. Lotta heat, the camera is showing hot. I don't see any actual flaming but we hear it. It's basically right at the stairway. No line up here yet. There are lots of holes in the floor right by the stairway so tell the guys to be careful".

1612hrs: Squad 18 asked for permission to drop a line down from the 15th floor. He was ordered to stand by as Command assumed the issue with the standpipe would be resolved soon.

1612hrs: Engines 4, 6 & 24 connected their roll ups preparing to drop it down the exterior.

1613hrs: Engine 33 ECC observed water cascading into sub level A (the 1st to notice a possible break in the standpipe)

1613hrs: Visibility dropped to near zero on the 15th floor, described by numerous members as a curtain of black smoke falling rapidly. Construction debris & deteriorating fire condition impeded numerous members from exiting to a safe area. Some members became disoriented & were seperated from their unit. (This is 36 minutes after the initial alarm transmission).

Between 1614hrs & 1717hrs, 14 MAYDAY transmissions & 19 URGENT transmissions were recorded.

1614hrs: Engine 10 MAYDAY "asssist us. It's banked down and starting to get hot".  Engine 10 & 7 were attempting to exit the 15th floor & unable to locate stairway B.  Engine 10 officer decided to head to stairway A, he felt heat in front and behind him. Rescue 2 was ordered to address this MAYDAY.

1617hrs: Engine 10 Nozzle became seperated from Engine 10. He transmitted a MAYDAY. 3 seperate MAYDAY's were transmitted within a 2 minute 36 second time frame.

In the chaos, members were attempting to retreat to a safe area. The line was lowered via exterior but they needed to add more hose to the tip. Engine 24 members split up as they were attempting to fix this issue. Engine 24 officer was eventually assisted to safety, exhausted & out of air. FF Beddia told E-24 back-up that he was going to drop down to the 14th floor. E-24 Back-up had no further contact with FF Beddia. When E-24 Back-up reached the 14th floor landing, he encountered FF Graffagnino who was gasping. He attempted to give Graffagnino his facepiece for air, but immediately felt the effects of the acrid smoke. FF Graffagnino appeared to be disoriented. E-24 Back-Up attempted to pull FF Graffagnino to the ground but fell back.

1650hrs: E-24 Back-Up transmitted the MAYDAY for Graffagnino & Beddia. 

1652hrs: 3rd Alarm transmitted. (75 minutes in)

1653hrs: E-24 Back-Up reached other firefighters. He informed Rescue 1, Rescue Battalion aide & Battalion 41 that Graffagnino & Beddia were still inside. E-24 Back-Up was exhausted & vomitting. There were other MAYDAY's transmitted & resolved during this.

1657hrs: There were no units operating above the 14th floor. Engine 24, Rescue 1, Rescue Battalion, Battalion 41 & Division 11 were the only units operating on the 14th floor. 

1657hrs: Battalion 2 made inquiry of missing members from Engine 24.

1658hrs: Rescue Battalion aide reported he is on the 14th floor & E-24 Back-Up states the rest of his company is missing, can we confirm this.

After hearing a PASS alarm, even though exhausted & operating for over an hour, Rescue 1 conducted the search. Division 11 located FF Graffagnino on the north side just across from the B stairway. He was supine & unconscious. His PASS alarm was activated.

17:07hrs Rescue 1 officer reported hearing another PASS alarm sounding. Engine 3 officer located FF Beddia in the core area between 2 turnstiles. He was on the edge of the platform that covered the original building elevator shafts on the east side of the core area. He was unconscious in the prone position.

Lt Joseph Graffagnino was posthumously promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on August 18, 2007. He was appointed Probationary Firefighter May 9th, 1999. He was assigned to Engine 24 August 4th, 1999 & transfered to Ladder 5 on December 9th, 2006.  He was detailed to Engine 24 for the day tour at the time of the Deutsche Bank fire assigned to the Control position.

FF Robert Beddia was appointed Probationary Firefighter on October 24th, 1983. December 7th 1983 he was assigned to Engine 24. For the Deutsche Bank fire, FF Beddia was working Overtime for the day tour assigned to the Nozzle position.

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