Photo credit: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office on Flickr
New York City officials are working to bolster fire safety in the wake of the devasting Bronx apartment fire in January that killed 17 people. Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday signed an executive order that aims to improve coordination between the city’s Fire Department and inspectors from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to identify safety violations earlier and increase fire safety compliance. The mayor said he plans to work with the City Council to pass a number of fire safety bills, including legislation that would increase fines for landlords who falsely report curing a self-closing door violation.
“We must work towards equipping every New Yorker and every building in this city with the tools to avoid an unspeakable tragedy like the one we saw two months ago,” Adams said in a press release.
“As we continue providing critical support for the families affected by the fire, we are working closely with Borough President Gibson, Council Member Feliz, and our partners across and beyond government to fix this problem upstream. Today’s actions are an essential step towards the goal of preventing this kind of tragedy from ever occurring again.”
Under the executive order, housing inspectors will look for proper fire safety signage in line with FDNY requirements. Inspectors will communicate this information to landlords and the fire department. FDNY will also conduct enhanced inspections for fire signage and posting violations.
HPD will provide FDNY with access to all issued violations starting from January 1, 2022, that pertain to fire safety, which the FDNY will then use to conduct more frequent inspections of buildings with multiple violations.
The agencies will launch a joint, broad, educational fire safety outreach campaign including information relating to smoke detectors, self-closing doors, and stove knob covers, as well as working with the Department of Education to educate students, teachers, and staff about fire safety measures and evacuation procedures.
Adams said his administration will work with the City Council to pass fire safety legislation, including new protocols for sprinkler systems.
A week after the fire, lawmakers brainstormed strategies to prevent future fire incidents. Rep. Ritchie Torres and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand proposed new legislation that would require the installation of heat sensors in federally-owned housing developments. It may be included in the Democrat’s omnibus spending bill this year.
“It is unfortunate that these types of deadly fires are far too common, and it is our duty, as elected officials, to protect people from such preventable dangers,” Gillibrand said in a statement.
“The plans Mayor Adams will implement to allow fire departments to collaborate and share data across all necessary agencies will work in partnership with the bill I introduced with Congressman Torres, the Empowering the U.S. Fire Administration Act, which will help the U.S. Fire Administration to assist and provide the resources our local fire departments need to prevent an incident like the one we saw on January 9.”
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