Another Friday Afternoon, Another Announcement of Bad News at Deutsche Bank Building

For the second time in a month, some negative news regarding a 2007 fatal fire at the Deutsche Bank building in Lower Manhattan was announced by the city on a Friday afternoon in the summer.

On June 19, a Friday, the Department of Investigation released a report that contained a damaging allegation that a city worker was instructed not to report a faulty standpipe that later played a role in the fire. The result, as to be expected from the timing, was a relatively small pickup in the media beyond a story in the Daily News. [Update: The report actually did get carried by a number of other outlets including the Times and NY1.]

Following up on the report, the city’s Department of Buildings sent out an announcement this Friday that it was taking disciplinary action against two employees involved with the building, issuing them “letters of reprimand,” and moving them off the Deutsche deconstruction project. The employees were disciplined for not ensuring their subordinates were properly trained, which was another criticism that the Department of Investigation raised.

The supervisor involved in the standpipe incident, Robert Iulo, had been dismissed.

Here’s part of the statement from the Department of Buildings:

On the day of the fire, and in the months prior, Robert Iulo, former Executive Director of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center Task Force, supervised the DOB inspectors assigned to the 130 Liberty Street site and the members of the Buildings Enforcement Safety Team (BEST), which specializes in the inspections of high-rise construction operations. As indicated in the report, Iulo failed to ensure that the four inspectors permanently assigned to the 130 Liberty Street site received proper training to perform their duties and that their inspections were performed in an adequate manner. The report also states that Iulo instructed an inspector not to issue a violation and a Stop Work Order when a standpipe breach was identified on the 28th floor, notwithstanding that the condition was ultimately corrected. As a result of the DOI investigation, DOB served Iulo with disciplinary charges on February 17, 2009. Three days later, he retired with the charges pending.

Thomas Connors, Executive Director of Construction Site Safety, and Christopher Santulli, Acting Assistant Commissioner of Emergency and Safety Operations, have been issued letters of reprimand for failing to ensure that the inspectors were properly trained. As indicated in the report, Connors and Santulli were aware that the inspectors were not adequately trained but failed to follow up to ensure that they received training. Both employees no longer have any supervisory role in the ongoing deconstruction operations at the 130 Liberty Street site. Connors, who had an initial role in directly overseeing the inspectors, will be required to undergo additional leadership and management training.

ebrown@observer.com