Union Blames Cutbacks For Serious Burn Injuries To 2 Firefighters

WPIX 11 - December 21, 2011

Two veteran firefighters were seriously burned while responding to a house fire in Brooklyn Monday morning

CROWN HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN (PIX11)-- A fiery blaze in a Brooklyn brownstone Monday morning has left two firefighters and two civilians seriously injured, fire officials said. The firefighters' union claims the injuries could have been prevented if the mayor did not make cutbacks to the FDNY.

James Gersback, 52, who is a 25-year-veteran, and Robert Weidmann, 38, a 14-year veteran, were badly burned Monday morning. Weidmann is said to have burns on about 30 percent of his body.

According to authorities, the fire broke out at around 9 a.m. on the third floor of a building on Prospect Place near Albany Ave in the Crown Heights section.

It took responding firefighters a little bit over an hour to finally contain the blaze. Two firefighters suffered serious burns while battling the house fire. They were reportedly transported to Cornell University Medical Center where they are being treated in the burn unit.

The firefighters suffered serious burns to their heads and hands, but are in stable condition Monday night.

The injuries re-ignited a long running battle between the firefighters union and Mayor Michael Bloomberg over what suitable staffing levels on fire trucks should be in the wake of city budget cuts.

Uniformed Firefighters Association President Stephen Cassidy spoke out about those cuts at the scene.

"The direct result was it took over one minute extra to get water on that fire," Cassidy told PIX11 News. "If 234 had been fully staffed, we wouldn't have two firefighters in the burn center today. None of this would have happened."

Other injuries reported included two residents who were transported to Staten Island University Hospital where they are being treated for serious injuries, officials said.