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Is Spiderman needed when you can just open a window? Another FDNY – NYPD ESU rift.

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September, 2011 FDNY – ESU incident at Brooklyn motorcycle crash

Bill Carey with more on the risk management of this incident at

I am sure many of you recall the video we showed you last September of the attempted rescue of a motorcyclist trapped under a car in Brooklyn when the hydraulic spreaders in the hands of a member of the NYPD Emergency Services Unit didn’t do the trick and the car came crashing down? This occurred while firefighters were attempting to use an air bag to lift the car (click here). Now Bill Carey at has come up with a new example of FDNY and ESU sometimes working at cross purposes.

It happened yesterday during a partial scaffolding collapse on East 66th Street in Manhattan. ESU had a police officer rappel off the roof to reach the trapped workers. FDNY handled it in a different way. They opened a window and let the men and the police officer inside the building.

According to WNBC-TV, one of the workers thanked ESU Detective James Coll (interviewed in the stories below) for coming to their aid sending him an email that read, “You did the most courageous work and I really can’t thank you enough for risking your lives to save us. Thank you again and God bless you.”

Acccording to the New York Post FDNY Battalion Chief Michael Massucci had a very different view of Coll’s actions:

“I didn’t see the need for him to put himself in harm’s way,” Massucci  grumbled.

He said the Fire Department should have been in charge.

“The city protocol is that FDNY has all life, safety and rescue operations,” Massucci fumed. 

New York Times:

Chief Massucci, 48, a 22-year veteran, said firefighters wound up aiding the officer, too. They pulled him in through the same 17th-floor window because he could not climb back up the building’s facade and most likely did not have enough rope to reach the ground, the chief said.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Gil

    Let the cops do it, they want to do it all. If the fire dept. has to do the rescue there is a good chance they might miss a fire.

  • Northeast Jake

    Or the cops might miss a robbery!

  • Brendan

    Why is it that NY has two different agencies continually responding on the same calls. Can someone explain to me why this happens. NIMS is supposed to eliminate this type of confusion. It’s either ESU or FDNY. It can’t be both unless they work together under a unified command. From the outside it doesn’t appear that they are working under a unified command. It just looks like free lancing to me.

    • Firefox

      Happens because a few mayors ago the pd commissioner had more power and influence than the fd commissioner. And no fire commissioner since has the juice to get it changed. The nypd is an incredibly powerful organization within nyc politics.

  • Northwest Mike

    So they had some real live training, what we all desperately need and ask for, whats the problem?

  • Crowbar

    This is embarrassing. Repel down the side of a high rise versus opening a window. Hmmmm let me see now . . .

  • Homer S

    FDNY doesn’t use NIMS. they still use the same terminology and 10 codes.

  • Jerome Smiff

    This is why Firemen will ALWAYS, ALWAYS be smarter than cops.

  • http://msn retiredin sc

    10 more points on the test the cops would of been firefighters


    Well, you know, boys, it’s so much safer and smarter to set up a rappel down the side of a high-rise. Great decision, ESU!! Oh, and that little glitch about not having enough rope to reach the ground, well, don’t worry, just ease on down, pick off the victim, put his life on a rope, and when you get down to the end of the rope, other ESU guys will get really risky and open a window and pull you both in. Yeah, that will be the easy way, you know, since we can’t use the Jaws to lift him back up the building.


    HAHAHAHA cops always trying to be fireman, Hey man stick with your badge and gun stop chasing medals and let the guys that think and train but are not to blinded by rules and training do what we do!!

  • Firefighter

    The AHJ needs to determine the roles for each of its agencies.

    There are many different types of rescues that can occur in that city. Who handles vehicle extrication?, water rescue?, hi-rise rescue?, collapse rescue?, etc. The AHJ should designate which agency handles what, instead of two butting heads.

    IMHO, two different entities are competing. Taxpayers do not need to pay for a service twice. When a duplication of service is being provided, some other service is probably being shortfunded. Time for the AHJ to designate what agency does what.

  • Rabbi Solomen

    I don’t understand why the cops didn’t set up their 40′ X 40′ inflatable life donut so the people could have just jumped onto it. Intsead of the tradional air filled inflatable, NY ESU’s inflatable life donut is Bavariuan Creme filled….it makes one hell of a mess, but with so many cops there, they eat it all up. E=Ego, S=Sentric, U=Unit

  • Mack Seagrave

    As long as the TV and print media continue to cover rescue incidents, the members of the NYPD’s “No Time For Crime Unit” will flock to the scene and interfere in their never ending mission seeking “good press coverage”. This continues to place victims and Firefighters in further danger as free lancing police officers tend to do things other than according to properly accepted procedure. I’m sure the ESU crew would welcome the FDNY to hostage and gun battle scenes if the Fire Department decided to equip their personnel with bullet proof vests, sidearms and assault rifles …

    • Mr618

      Well, Mack, the arson squad guys are sworn peace officers…

  • Curly in CT

    Hey NYC…pick one…end of story

  • JustSayin’

    is this another thing FDNY does “BEST”?

    Not play well with others??

    • CHAOS

      So, FDNY should have just stood back and watched ESU do the stupid rappel thing instead of the infintely safer, but way less cool, open the window trick??
      After the “hurry up and raise the car with the Jaws before FDNY can set up the airbags” trick, this doesn’t help ESU look like they should be allowed to function without adult supervision.

  • FireGears

    You’re barking about the symptoms and not addressing the cause/problem.

    And my question stands…

    Is this another thing FDNY does “BEST”?

    Not play well with others??

    • Other guy

      i’m not certain what point you are trying to make, but I’ll “BEST” attempt to answer your question with a question.

      If that was you hanging off that window washing platform, whose plan would you have chosen? Dangle off a rope to the ground, or go into the building through a window?

      It’s my opinion that in THIS case, the FDNY had the “BEST” plan.

      Sound like you have an axe to grind with the FDNY, care to share?

    • mark

      Well, FG, I would say FDNY plays very nice with others, after all, they could have left the ESU moron hanging there with too short a rope and not able to climb back up.

      So, what exactly was ESU’s rescue plan?


    The cause/problem is having two separate city agencies attempting to provide the same service independently of each other. I’m not aware of any place where that strategy works out well. The city needs to make a decision one way or the other.
    In this episode and the previous “car-lifting” calamity, it certainly appears that the ESU picked the wrong option for the situation.
    How do you pick FDNY as the ones not playing well with others and not the ESU?
    As far as the “best” title, in this business there is no way to quantify the “best” in any category, as there are too many entries and too many variables. But, “damn good” in this business is much like the classic definition of pornography – I know it when I see it.

  • RJ(in florida)

    Ah the FDNY ESU war continues. when i was living up there the PD called the FDNY the “the red menace” and the FDNY called the PD “the blue flu”. i have personally been on car accidents (they call them pin jobs up there) where ESU was on one side of the car and FDNY rescue on the other. each would send somebody to shut off the others hurst tool motors with the object being whoever gets the patient out first wins.

    the FDNY vs. ESU war will never end..CHAOS-calling it porn is so accurate two agencys &$@&ing each other…thats porn but seriously, both teams do a great job and each has their niches. the car accident where the car got dropped is an example of what happens when it goes too fast and wrong

  • David

    Leave to the FDNY and let the cops do what they do best catch the bad guys period.

  • 6ftHook

    I doubt the plan was to lower the victims to the ground. More than likely a 4-1 haul system would have been placed on the main line to retrieve the officer and victims. But thats not really the point. Having a team set and ready to be lowered is a wise choice…a plan B if you will. But the obvious solution to this problem was opening the window they were in front of and letting them climb on in. Tunnel vision is always dangerous, especially in a specialized operation. Maybe doing something just because you can isnt the best option. This ultimatley comes down to NYC dont clearly defining and enforcing the which agency is repsonsible for this type of operation.

  • Rob Mirf

    Ducks follow ducks, that’s why they have untimely deaths in vacant buildings and situations where should have gotten out before it was too late. It seems easier to place blame on others and equipment than to accept responsibility for bad decisions.