Mayor Eric Adams announced a slew of new fire safety measures Sunday — two months after the deadly Bronx blaze at a building with a long history of violations.
With the aim of averting another tragedy like the Twin Parks high-rise fire that killed 17 people, Adams’ executive order will increase coordination between the FDNY and the city’s housing department, so the agencies can “identify safety violations earlier and increase fire safety compliance.”
The building had amassed more than two dozen violations and complaints before the Jan. 9 inferno, which was sparked by a faulty space heater that sources said had been left on for days.
“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,” said Adams in a press release. “Today’s actions are an essential step towards the goal of preventing this kind of tragedy from ever occurring again.”
Executive Order 12 will increase “coordination and information-sharing” between the fire department and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development by mandating that HPD inspectors search for compliance with FDNY’s requirements in addition to housing code violations.
HPD will also check that the Fire Safety Notice is displayed on apartments’ front doors and notify FDNY in cases where it is not.
The order requires HPD to give FDNY access to fire safety-related violations found since January 1, 2021; the FDNY will use the data to ramp up inspections at buildings with high amounts of violations, according to the press release.
Additionally, FDNY and HPD will perform a “broad, educational fire safety outreach campaign.” As part of the effort, the fire department will partner with the Department of Education to teach students and staff about fire safety measures and evacuation protocols during fires.
“Educating New Yorkers on fire safety is among the most important goals of the Fire Department — and one we take very seriously,” Acting FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh said in a statement. “These new partnerships will strengthen the work we already do and help us reach the neediest residents in all corners of the city on fire education and prevention.”
Along with the executive order, Adams vowed that City Hall is encouraging the City Council to pass fire safety legislation, including a potential bill to raise fines by an unspecified sum for landlords who falsely report rectifying a self-closing door violation.
In the January Bronx blaze, a malfunctioning third-floor apartment door did not automatically close, allowing smoke to spread throughout the 19-story high-rise, killing 17, including eight children.
In response, the building’s owners were hit with a $3 billion, class-action suit that alleges the current and former owners of the Bronx apartment tower should be held liable for the fatal fire because the landlords “had actual notice of defective conditions” in it.
At a vigil two days after the fire, state Attorney General Letitia James vowed “to get to the bottom” of the blaze. Gov. Kathy Hochul, for her part, announced $2 million in aid for the tenants affected by the fire.
Meanwhile, top New York politicians demanded that Congress impose new regulations on privately-run housing complexes that receive federal subsidies like Twin Parks.