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TV station reports FDNY policy change after squatters’ bodies found in vacant burned-out building. Forensic demolition to occur more quickly.

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Jim Hoffer & Jennifer Matarese, WABC-TV:

The FDNY is not admitting that mistakes were made, but they are amending their search policy to ensure speedier demolition of vacant buildings after a fire.

When three bodies were discovered seven days after this Bronx fire, the FDNY insisted there was no indication squatters could have been inside.

But Eyewitness News obtained a critical information dispatch that went directly to the Battalion and Deputy Chiefs on the scene that morning.

It cautions responders that “squatters” could be inside.

NY FDNY squatters bodies

Fire experts Eyewitness News spoke to say the FDNY was correct to stop their interior search due to potential building collapse, but once the fire was out experts say they should have called in a crew to do a forensic demolition.

“My experience has been those structures, we were able to go through in about a 24 to 36 hour period,” said Ken Willet(te), of the National Fire Protection Association.

“What I experienced is the fire department did not leave the scene until they were able to make a determination whether there was someone inside the building or not,” Willet(te) said.

The FDNY says it has changed its policy, so that in the future, if there’s a chance victims are inside a burned out vacant structure, the Department will work with the Buildings Department to speed up the forensic demolition and stay on the scene until it’s determined whether anyone is inside.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Fire21

    Quoting from the article: “The FDNY says it has changed its policy, so that in the future, if there’s a chance victims are inside a burned out vacant structure, the Department will work with the Buildings Department to speed up the forensic demolition and stay on the scene until it’s determined whether anyone is inside.”

    There’s ALWAYS a chance someone could have been inside. Does this mean they will do this forensic demolition on EVERY vacant burned-out structure? Wow, can’t you see this happening in Detroit?…the investigators would never get a day off!

    I’m not saying don’t search, but gee whiz. To be totally honest, sometimes a burned body looks just like so much other burned debris. I’m not sure that one event is worth changing policy over.

  • notajake

    Good Lord…

    Has it been that long since the Worcester Cold Storage fire?

    Abandoned and worthless buildings – stay out and let it burn. Do what you can from a defensive position.

    Not worth a single hair on the head of a single firefighter.

  • mark

    I hesitate to ask, but what how is a forensic demolition different from searching a building and demo’ing it?

    Sounds like someone had too much time on their hands and came up with some stupid new term.

  • Anonymous

    A cadaver dog going through the building seems like a reasonable approach to this. This has happened in other places also.

  • 19262007

    @notajake,
    I guess if the building is vacant/abandoned it’s not worth even attempting a search. Anyone in there doesn’t pay taxes anyway, right? Tell that to Detroit and Highland Park.