NYC Rescue Turns Into Battle of the Badges
Three workers were saved from a dangling scaffold on an Upper East Side high-rise yesterday — but the rescue operation became a battle of the badges when cops and firefighters squabbled over safety issues and who should have been in charge.
The men were doing brick work at 200 E. 66th St., a 21-story condo building, when their scaffold nearly tipped over between the 17th and 18th floors around 10 a.m., authorities said.
Police and firefighters raced to the scene minutes later, and launched separate rescue efforts.
Emergency Service Unit Detectives James Coll, 39, and Shawn Soler, 36, went to the building’s roof.
Coll rappelled down the side of the building to the three trapped workers while Soler monitored from above.
“One of the workers yelled up to us that he couldn’t feel his hands — he felt like he was slipping,” Coll said.
“He thought he was going to fall.”
Rappelling down the side of the building “was the only way we could get to them,” Coll said.
Firefighters took a different approach — entering a 17th-floor apartment to rescue the men through the windows.
In the end, Coll, Soler and the firefighters worked together to get the frightened workers safely into the building.
“Two of the men were fairly close to the windows. We got them in fairly quick,” said Coll, who clipped the third man to his own safety harness, then helped get him through the window.
One of the thankful workers even sent Det. Coll a grateful email.
“I didn’t have the chance to thank you today after you rappelled down the façade of the building to save my life,” wrote Anmar, a building engineer.
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.”
One worker was taken to New York Hospital for observation, and the other two men were treated at the scene.
Buildings Department officials issued a stop-work order on the facade job, and said the contractor, AM&G Waterproofing of Brooklyn, didn’t have adequate safety equipment at the site.
AM&G did not respond to a request for comment.
Republished with permission of The New York Post