BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Lieutenant Charles "Chip" McCarthy and Firefighter Jonathan Croom were killed in the line of duty while battling a fire in 2009. Now, it appears settlements in their deaths could help protect other Buffalo firefighters.
As busy at it gets for the crew at Rescue 1, there are two firefighters whose memories are ever present. Lt. McCarthy and Firefighter Croom gave their lives while battling the Genesee Street deli fire in August of 2009.
Firefighter Kevin Sikorski of Rescue 1 said, "I don't think there's a day that goes by that every one of us doesn't think about both of them."
The city is expected to agree to settlements of $3.1 million for Firefighter Croom's family, including two young children, and $1.1 million for Lt. McCarthy's family. His children are adults.
Capt. Tom Meldrum of Rescue 1 said, "It will help them out in certain areas, but for Jonathon's kids it will help them be brought up, put them through school, hopefully."
There are tributes to Lt. McCarthy throughout the firehouse, both to the man and his sense of duty. A picture of Chip with his granddaughter, taken just 12 hours before the fatal deli fire, hangs on the wall.
Firefighter Mike Doughtery of Rescue 1 said, "Chip's name is on the side of the Rescue here. You can't help but notice it every time you get on."
Part of the settlement with the City of Buffalo includes changes in safety protocols for firefighters in the city, including the presence of an accountability officer, right next to the commander at the scene of a major fire.
McCarthy family attorney Tom Burton said, "Watching who's going in and who goes out... In a bad fire, it's organized chaos, and there has to be someone that keeps track of these firefighters who are actually in the structure."
Dougherty added, "You know, anything they do to make it more safer for us, we're all for it."
The settlements will spare the families the pain of having to relive the tragedy in a lawsuit, a tragedy that will have a lasting impact on the Buffalo Fire Department.
"It is a huge settlement for them. Sad thing about it is it, it doesn't bring either one of them back," Sikorski said.
Attorneys for the families are also suing the deli property owners for alleged building and fire code violations.
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