Firefighters union: Commissioner Ayers should resign

Posted: May 23, 2012

The Philadelphia firefighters union said today that fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and his two top deputies should resign for a lack of leadership and tactical errors that led to the deaths of two firefighters last month in Kensington.

The leaders of Local 22 said the incident commander failed to establish a "collapse zone" around a vacant, century-old mill that sparked into a spectacular five-alarm blaze on April 9.

The two firefighters - Lt. Robert P. Neary and Firefighter Daniel Sweeney - were killed when one of the mill's five-story walls collapsed on an adjacent furniture store, where they were doing a routine check.

Mike Bresnan, the union's recording secretary, said it was "unacceptable" that no collapse zone was established and said the firefighters should have never been sent into the furniture store.

"If there's a homeless guy living in there, then we're paid to take risks," he said. "But this is a case of a furniture store. What are we worried about? Some furniture burning?"

At a brief news conference outside the fire department's headquarters, Michael Resnick, the city's director of public safety, said Ayers and his deputies "have our full support, 110 percent."

Resnick called the union's allegations "scandalous, scurrilous, bold-faced lies."

"We had collapse zones established," he said.

The cause of the fire has not been determined and other issues surrounding the fire are subject to a local grand jury and other federal investigations.

Contact staff writer Troy Graham at 215-854-2730 or, or follow on Twitter @troyjgraham.

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