WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
New York, NY –
A verdict is still months away in the criminal case involving three men charged in the Deutsche blaze fire that killed two firefighters last year.
But an unprecedented agreement between District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and the Bloomberg Administration has committed the city to overhaul how it regulates construction and demolition sites.
Investigators identified dozens of lapses in oversight. Yet the most egregious was that despite the dangerous nature of dismantling the high-rise, the tower never received a bi-monthly inspection.
They are required for all sites under construction or demolition. Several fires went unreported at the site before the fatal blaze in August 2007.
Morgenthau's report asserts that the Deutsche Bank case was no exception.
It concludes that high-ranking FDNY officers knew that citywide, fire companies responsible for inspections were not doing them.
Now the City has committed to create a civilian team with 25 inspectors whose sole duty will be regular fire inspection of any building under construction, demolition or environmental remediation.
Still unresolved is how the City deals with code enforcement at several hundred buildings like foreign embassies and the Port Authority that enjoy so-called sovereign immunity .
For WNYC I'm Bob Hennelly.