Union Links Fire Death to $$ Cuts

NY Post - February 21, 2011

by JOHN DOYLE and PERRY CHIARAMONTE

A windswept, five-alarm fire that killed an elderly Brooklyn woman Saturday could have been contained much faster with more men on duty, union officials charged yesterday.

Retired guidance counselor Mary Feagin, 62, died in the powerful blaze that swept through her Flatbush apartment building on East 29th Street at around 6 p.m. Twenty firefighters and 11 civilians also were injured in the blaze.

Firefighters struggled to get water on the blaze because budget cuts left each of the first three responding units short a man, said union chief Steve Cassidy.

"It never would have gotten out of control the way it did," said Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

But Fire Department officials said firefighters were up against a lethal combination: heavy winds and an open door.