WHERE THERE'S SMOKE

NY Post - December 09, 2005

Last week, 26-year-old firefighter Joseph Moore suffered a fractured skull after falling from a fire truck while responding to a blaze. The truck was a 17-year-old spare vehicle, used in place of another vehicle that was being serviced. Many are blaming Moore's fall on a loose side door.

In the wake of this incident, the firefighters union wants an independent investigation to be conducted into how the FDNY selects its spare vehicles.

It's not an unreasonable request.

Mayor Bloomberg vows to "look at every aspect of our procedures" to "make sure that an event like this doesn't happen in the future."

But an internal FDNY probe of the incident isn't enough. The fire department investigating itself on this matter would be a conflict of interest.

That's the position of Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, and he's right.

"It is blatantly obvious that the use of outdated and unsafe equipment as spare vehicles is a common practice for the FDNY," Cassidy says, "jeopardizing both firefighter and public safety, and [it] must be stopped."

According to the union, new fire trucks from the department's Wisconsin supplier, Seagrave Fire Apparatus, have been delivered late and have had mechanical troubles — forcing more old trucks into service.

Whether or not this is a truly widespread problem, little harm can come of an independent investigation.

Indeed, eliminating any appearance of a conflict of interest would give both the firefighters and the public all the more confidence that the situation is being dealt with appropriately.