10/29/07

Firefighters union members accused of arson

Two off-duty New York City firefighters were arrested last night on charges of spreading and igniting flammable fluid outside a Manhattan firehouse early Saturday, Fire Department officials said.

A firefighter inside the firehouse, in the Clinton neighborhood, noticed smoke seeping in from the main garage door and alerted colleagues, and they quickly extinguished the blaze, the officials said. No one was injured and the door appeared to be operable last night, though much of its exterior was blackened.

The two suspects, Michael Izzo, 30, of Staten Island and Richard Capece, 31, of Brooklyn, who were stationed at other fire companies, surrendered yesterday. They were charged with arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, all felonies. The motive was unclear, law enforcement officials said.

Firefighter Izzo is a six-year veteran of the department assigned to Engine 242 in Brooklyn, and Firefighter Capece is a five-year veteran currently assigned to Engine 1 in Manhattan.

The fire was set at 2:15 a.m. at the firehouse of Engine Company 34 and Ladder Company 21 at 440 West 38th Street, the department said. The episode was taped by a surveillance camera, the officials said.

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta called the crime "an outrageous, depraved act" and said that if convicted, the suspects would be terminated. For now, the two men are suspended from duty without pay.

The Uniformed Firefighters Association, the union that represents firefighters, did not immediately return a call seeking comment last night.

(nytimes.com)

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