Investigation Reveals Cause Of Incident That Injured Firefighter

NY 1 - October 11, 2006

by the Fire Department of New York revealed the cause of an accident that caused serious head injuries for a Manhattan firefighter in May.

Twenty- eight year old Thomas LaBara was ejected from Engine 7 in Lower Manhattan because of a faulty latch on the cab door, according the report.

"If the locking mechanism isn't working properly, we're risking the health and safety of New York City firefighters," said Stephen Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA).

Cassidy says since the incident, the Fire Department has done nothing to guarantee that kind of accident doesn't happen again.

As evidence he cited in an internal memo obtained by the UFA from FDNY Chief of Safety, Al Hay. In the memo dated June 12, 2006, Chief Hay says he is not aware of any other incidents like the one that injured firefighter LaBara, but he issued a recommendation that the Department's entire fleet of Seagrave pumpers be retro-fitted with properly functioning locking devices.

"We're talking about 195 - 200 pumpers," said Cassidy. "We estimate 95 percent of them are affected by this. So it's a tremendous amount; it'll probably take some period of time, but they have not done anything 5 months later."

The Fire Department says it has not done anything because it's not going to do anything. The Department says it has considered the recommendation of its safety chief, but believes the accident was an isolated incident.

It says the safety of its members is paramount and reminds all firefighters to follow mandated rules to put their gear on before getting on the fire truck, and to always wear their seat belts, which the department believes could have prevented LaBara's accident.

Cassidy says he's going to call on the City Council to conduct an oversight hearing on rig safety if the problem is not fixed immediately.