Firefighters’ Union Advises Members Not To Enter Realty

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The city firefighters union is advising its members against voluntarily entering Realty Tower to retrieve residents’ personal items.

In a post on its Facebook page, the Youngstown Professional Fire Fighters Local 312 cautioned its members against “entering the former Realty Tower for any reason other than our sworn duty to protect a human life.”

It’s said that if Fire Chief Barry Finley asked them to volunteer their time for the recovery of residents’ possessions, they should “consider the risks to you and your family that the City will not be assuming any liability for.”

The union also posted a letter addressed to Finley, saying that entry into the building poses a significant threat to the lives and safety of union members. It refers to a lack of structural stability cited by engineers who evaluated the building.

“It has been left for over a month to endure the powerful force of gravity with the interior of the building and collapsed basement exposed to the elements,” the letter to the chief said. “Realty Tower is likely more unstable now than it has ever been.”

Firefighters and equipment carrying equipment out of the building “could be all it takes for a partial interior or even global collapse of the remaining structure,” the letter said.

It says the wreckage includes 1,000-pound dangling pieces of concrete.

“Our firefighters are mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters,” the letter continues. 

If firefighters volunteer for the work while off duty, neither the city nor the property owner would assume risk, it says.

“To be clear, Local 312 members have an immense amount of sympathy for the residents, employees, businesses and families that have been affected by this horrible tragedy,” the union’s letter said.

Firefighters’ commitment to them should be obvious from their actions the day of the explosion. “Asking our members to place their lives at risk in that building again, 6 weeks later, for anything other than to save a life is unconscionable,” it says.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.