Personal Ropes For Every Firefighter
CBSTVNY-Feb 4, 2005
Two weeks ago, six firefighters at a Bronx tenement fire had a no win decision by either staying in the burning building or jumping 50-feet to a small concrete plaza. They jumped. Two of them died and four were critically injured. But on Friday, the fire department took steps to make sure events like this dont happen again. It is a decision the citys firefighters have been hoping for. Fire Commissioner Nick Scoppetta said he is going to buy new personal ropes for every firefighter in the department.
Were going to get personal ropes for every firefighter, says Scoppetta.
For the 11,000 plus firefighters and fire officers in the New York City, fire commissioner Scoppettas dramatic promise ended nearly two weeks of tension and trauma. Nearly everyone said that fire lieutenants John Bellew and Curtis Mayran may not have died during a tenement fire at 236 E. 178th Street in the Bronx if they had personal ropes to propel down the building. Fire and illegal partitions prevented them from reaching the fire escape. Without ropes, their only choice was stay and burn or jump 50 feet. They are lightweight, strong, and resilient enough to take the shock of a firefighter going out the window maybe dropping a few feet before he starts going down, says Scoppetta.
Four other firefighters were critically injured in the jump. Commissioner Scopetta made clear during a taping on Friday of Sunday Edition with Marcia Kramer that he knows he has to rush this project through the bureaucracy. I will be asking the controller to declare this an emergency contract so we can do it in a matter of weeks instead of months, said Scopetta.
Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy has been unhappy that the personal ropes were eliminated in the year 2000 by then Commissioner Thomas Von Essen. He applauded Scoppettas decision. I mean throughout the history of the department firefighters have had to bail out of flaming apartments. They have done it in various ways. Having ropes is critical to our safety. Its a shame for these families that these firefighters didnt have it,” says Cassidy.
Over the next few days the department will be testing several ropes to pick out the best one. There is also a possibility that the harness for the rope will be built into every firefighters turnout coat.