Manhattan Scaffolding Rescue Highlights Agency Rivalry and Risk Management Decisions

Scaffold rescue highlights problems in unified command system.

In Manhattan yesterday, a scaffold came partially undone outside the 17th floor of a 21-story building on East 66th Street. The FDNY and NYPD ESU response revealed a dispute between the two agencies and differing views, as well as reports, of the immediate actions that need to be taken.

According to both the New York Post and New York Times, the ESU team lowered a member from the roof down to the three trapped workers. The FDNY simply opened an adjacent window, secured the workers and led them inside. They also did the same with the ESU member who had rappelled down. While the incident ended safely, it left many grumbling about problems within the city's unified command system and agency rivalry.

"But in a public display of inter-agency anger, FDNY Battalion Chief Michael Massucci argued that Coll took an unnecessary risk. “I didn’t see the need for him to put himself in harm’s way,” Massucci grumbled. He said the Fire Department should have been in charge. “The city protocol is that FDNY has all life, safety and rescue operations,” Massucci fumed. “Well, we’re trained to do this,” retorted Coll. “We have some of the best training and the best equipment to do this.”"

and…

"Chief Massucci, 48, a 22-year veteran, said firefighters wound up aiding the officer, too. They pulled him in through the same 17th-floor window because he could not climb back up the building’s facade and most likely did not have enough rope to reach the ground, the chief said."

 

 

Bill Carey is the daily news and blog manager for Elsevier Public Safety (FireRescue Magazine/Firefighter Nation, JEMS and LawOfficer sites.) Bill also manages the FireEMSBlogs.com network and is a former volunteer lieutenant with the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George's County, Maryland.

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