Federal agency investigating York City firefighter deaths

A federal agency will be investigating the deaths of two York City firefighters who died in the line of duty last month.

Investigation is underway amidst the smoldering skeleton of the former Weaver Piano Co. building on North Broad Street in York City, Thursday, March 22, 2018. The fire began Wednesday afternoon, in the midst of Winter Storm Toby. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Philip Given, chief of staff for York City Mayor Michael Helfrich, said Tuesday, April 10, that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will investigate the deaths.

Specifically, the institute's Firefighter Fatality and Prevention Program will handle the investigation. 

"They'll be coming to York in the next few weeks," Given said.

Nura Sadeghpour, health communications specialist for NIOSH, said the program is intended to identify factors that contributed to the firefighters' deaths in an incident as well as provide findings and recommendations in public reports to prevent future tragedies.

The organization does not enforce compliance with regulations or assess culpability, Sadeghpour said.

Sadeghpour also said NIOSH could not comment on the investigation because it is ongoing.

Firefighters Zachary Anthony, 29, and Ivan Flanscha, 50, died and two other firefighters were injured when part of the old Weaver Piano & Organ Co. building at 127 N. Broad St. collapsed March 22. 

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Anthony had been with the department since 2010, and Flanscha had been with the department since 1999.

The four were there that day putting out hot spots in the building after a fire the previous day.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as state and local law enforcement, is investigating the blaze. 

NIOSH officials will meet with city leaders and fire department officials, and they will interview those who were at the scene when the fatal incident occurred, according to Given. 

“It’s a very lengthy and thorough investigation,” he said.

Given said there is no timetable for how long the investigation will take. 

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.