Unanswered questions remain in York City firefighter deaths

YORK, Pa. -- Several questions remain two weeks after two York City firefighters were killed in the line of duty.

Some have wondered why any firefighters were inside a partially collapsed building before it gave way, and who made the call.

Demolition continues at the site of the Weaver building as the ATF is expected to release a final report in 30 days, meanwhile some are reflecting back on that fateful day.

The deaths of two firefighters on Thursday, March 22nd make it a day that’s difficult for many in York City to remember.

York County Firefighters Association president Fred DeSantis said "that pain won’t heal for a long time. We’re just focusing on taking care of the wives, and getting our members help."

Neighbor Steve Shellenberger who witnessed the event said "terrible. It’s a dangerous job, and I’m glad they’re here doing it. I feel for their families."

DeSantis recalled the night the fire broke out.

"Me and Zach were in a basket throwing water into the building. We talked about his personal life, different things that we did together, and it’s just terrible," DeSantis said.

"I would never imagined that he was even still working, I didn’t know he got called back to work, because he was originally supposed to go home when we went home. And then he got called and care back," DeSantis added.

DeSantis is one of the crew members who battled the fire at the Weaver building for two days.

"The rubber roof was blocking the fire, which was preventing the water from hitting it. Every time we moved the guns away from the fire, it just reignited and got a little bigger. So the only way to get it was to go inside," DeSantis said.

Some may question if that was the right decision and wonder who made the call, since part of the building had already collapsed that Wednesday.

"I don’t know who made the call, the decision, but really, somebody, would have had to go inside to get that," DeSantis said.

"Nobody wants to see our members die, but we also know, we have to jump on these rigs, and do our job," DeSantis added.

"I’m not the professional. I’m not here to second guess the firemen. They’re trained in this, they do this for a living. It’s not my job to second guess what they were doing," Shellenberger said.

Another question is if firefighters could have just knocked the building down instead.

"The problem with that is that’s a private property. So we can’t just go around knocking people’s property down, although we would like to. That’s essentially up to the homeowner or business owner," DeSantis said.

While some unanswered questions remain as the investigation continues, that’s not all that DeSantis has to say about what’s happened since that tragic day.

"We’re proud of the city residents, the city businesses, the county businesses. All the firefighters that covered our stations while we were at the funerals, we can’t thank you guys enough," DeSantis said.

Until the investigation is over, it may be too soon to tell if the line of duty deaths of Ivan Flanscha and Zach Anthony could change how crews fight fires in the future.

"Obviously, if we could go back in time, I wish, they would have never went in the building. I mean we all do. We would like them back of course, but going forward, our tactics are going to be the same. We’re going to be aggressive interior firefighters. That’s what the public expects, and that’s what we’re going to do," DeSantis said.

Officials with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s firefighter investigation and prevention program say they are working with York City Fire Services on the next steps in this ongoing investigation.