N.Y.C. Firefighters honor two firefighters killed in the line of duty

by Deborah Feyerick


They hung the purple bunting and stood at attention.

A firehouse that lost 11 men on 9/11 - once more united in grief.

"We lost two of the finest men you'd ever meet in your life," Capt. Patrick McNally, with the New York Fire Department said.

53-year-old Robert Beddia and 33-year-old Joseph Graffagnino died fighting the seven alarm blaze that tore through a crippled building at ground zero.

"The building is being abated for asbestos, the materials they use to encapsulate the asbestos are very flammable. That's probably why the fire spread so rapidly. Otherwise the building is a shell," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

A shell because after five years of wrangling between developers, insurance companies and local residents, the building was finally in the process of being demolished -- one floor at a time. Early reports by the fire-commissioner indicate stand-pipes for water -- weren't working.

"We had to lift lines from the streets with ropes in order to get to the 17th floor because of it being under demolition," Nicholas Scoppetta, FDNY Commissioner, said.

New York's Governor toured the floor where the fire seems to have started.

"Everyone is grieving right now but what about accountability. For a firefighter to be in a building that's that dangerous, it was a death trap essentially," Gov. Elliot Spitzer, (D) New York, said.

"This is a building that is in the process of being torn down. It is an incredibly complicated process with shrouds and separate rooms that were created to remove and to cleanse people so it made it that much more complicated from a firefighting perspective. These are questions that everybody is asking right now," Deborah Feyerick, from New York said.

Behind this fence is the sight of the World Trade Center and directly across the street is the Deutsche Bank. Now when the towers fell, the building was heavily damaged. And there was a big debate as to who should pay to have it demolished - the developers or the insurance companies, as that dragged on toxic mold grew in a building that was already contaminated with asbestos.   Deconstruction had to stop temporarily when human remains were found this last march.

Julie Menin is with the local community board.

"The building has been very controversial in the neighborhood - we wanted the building to come down, but we wanted the building to come down safely.  This is a building you inherited, but it has been a source of great controversy, many people think it should have come down long ago and say that for two fire-fighters to die, it's unconscionable," Menin said.  "Well, they're right and the building should have been deconstructed many years back."

Firefighter Graffagnino leaves behind a wife and two children. Firefighter Beddia leaves behind a legacy - having trained most of the men in the firehouse.

A loss that is all too familiar.