Firefighters’ Union Calls on Commissioner Lloyd Ayers to Resign
During a press conference at the Philadelphia Firefighters Union Local 22 headquarters, union president Bill Gault and others called on Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers to resign “or be suspended pending a full investigation” into what led to the deaths of Lt. Robert P. Neary and firefighter Daniel Sweeney during a Kensington warehouse blaze last month.
During the press conference, held yesterday, leaders claimed no “collapse zone” was set up to provide safety for the firefighters on the scene. Additionally, wind gusts the night of April 9 should have warranted more than a five-alarm fire, and additional forces should have been sent in.
With Ayers, who they claim did not show up at the fire that night, they passed blame onto landlords of the warehouse, Yechiel, Michael, and Nahman Lichtenstein of Brooklyn, New York; and Mayor Michael Nutter, for his firehouse brownout policy. Gault referred to the Lichtensteins as a “disgrace to society” essentially enabled by “this utterly indifferent city administration that ignores the problems for years…slapping the owners on the wrists with fines that are largely ignored and issuing claims for back taxes that are never collected.”
Union leaders set up several photographs taken at the fire, as well, which they claimed showed silhouettes of firefighters in the so-called “collapse zone,” which should not have been the case.
“Philadelphia’s rank and file firefighters previously issued a vote of ‘No confidence’ for Commissioner Ayers and his deputies,” said Gault. “Now, their incompetence and dereliction of duty have claimed the lives of two of our finest and destroyed the quality-of-life of another.”
Firefighter Pat Nally was also injured in the fire.
The union said they waited until now to come out with said information because of issues with the late firemen’s families, and legal reasons. Families of the victims have filed civil and criminal suits against the Lichtensteins.
UPDATE: City officials have refuted many of the claims made by the firefighters’ union, including that of the collapse zone and the presence of safety officers on the scene.