The coordinated efforts will enhance inspections and increase fire safety outreach for residents, building owners and buildings. On March 20, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams signed a new Executive Order to strengthen fire safety enforcement and increase fire safety education. The executive order follows the aftermath of the Twin Parks fire this past January, where seventeen people were killed after a fire spread through an apartment building in the Bronx.
The executive order will increase coordination between the Fire Department and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to improve enforcement for fire safety laws. Coordination will include identifying safety violations earlier and enhanced inspections for fire signage and fire safety plan posting violations. HPD’s inspections will include confirmation that a Fire Safety Notice is posted on every apartment door. HPD will provide FDNY with access to any and all violations relating to fire code safety since January 1, 2021, which will enable the FDNY to conduct more frequent inspections where needed.
In addition, FDNY and HPD will launch a broad fire safety education outreach campaign, which will include information about smoke detectors, stove knob covers and self-closing doors. The agencies will reach out to residents with information about what to do in the event of a fire, and the campaign will provide information to building owners to remind them of their fire safety obligations.
The administration will also work with the City Council to enact more fire safety-related legislation, including fines for landlords who falsely report fixing a self-closing door violation and retrofit sprinkler legislation. Self-closing doors are required in all buildings with three or more apartments, as closing a door on a fire within an apartment can help prevent the spread of the fire to the hallway and other units. Tragically, the failure of a door that was supposed to close on its own contributed to the loss of life in the Twin Parks fire.
Mayor Adams stated, “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. As we continue providing critical support for the families affected by the fire, we are working closely with Borough President Gibson, Councilmember 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.”
FDNY Acting Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh stated, “Educating New Yorkers on fire safety is among the most important goals of the Fire Department — and one we take very seriously. 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.”
HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. stated, “The fire at the Twin Parks building was a devastating tragedy, and we are committed to working closely with FDNY to help prevent future tragedies. In addition to checking for self-closing doors, smoke detectors, and other critical safety items at every routine inspection, our inspectors will now also check that the Fire Safety Notice is posted on every apartment door, which provides life-saving information about what to do in the event of a fire. All New Yorkers should have a fire safety plan and contact their property owners if there are fire safety issues in their homes or file a complaint with 311 if issues are not corrected.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)