WYSK: CM Diaz Offers Fire Advice to Mayor de Blasio

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: A RECOMMENDATION FOR THE MAYOR OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 

By Councilman Rev. Rubén Díaz
District 18 Bronx

You should know that in the recent fire where twelve people may have unnecessarily lost their lives according to the Fire Department because an apartment door that should have been closed was left open allowing the fire to spread quickly. 

You should also know that the FDNY reported that the Thursday night tragedy is the worst since the Happy Land fire over 25 years ago. 

The Fire Department says that this tragedy was preventable with the help of an inexpensive hardware item.  This item, an automatic interior door closer, which was missing from the apartment doors at 2332 Prospect Avenue, costs only $118 a piece.

Understandably, as the fire spread tenants mistakenly opened their doors and windows, allowing a rush of oxygen causing the fire to spread in moments. 

Right now, no one knows for certain how many such unprotected apartments exist in the City.  

Yes, it is a time to grieve and honor heroes, such as the Army Specialist Emmanuel Mensah. However, wouldn’t we honor his heroic memory better, if prevented such future occurrences? 

First, we need to know the extent of the problem, hence I hope the Mayor IMMEDIATELY sets up a toll-free number for the Buildings Department (DOB) to take calls from residential tenants.   

This was done back in 1993, by then-Commissioner Mr. Christopher Lynn.  According to Mr. Lynn, this was easy and quick to do — and that was 20 years ago. 

The toll-free number could be advertised with PSA, public service advertisements, so people could call in if their apartment door doesn’t close automatically.   

Once we learn how many unequiped units exists, the city should partner with the Rent Stabilization Association and the Real Estate Board to contact each and every building owner directly (these groups can do it quickly) and inform them that they must install these devices and the City can offer to provide a one-time tax credit against their outstanding real estate, sewer or water bills, for the amount spent. 

The idea is to involve as many participants as possible, fix the problem, avoid creating bureaucracy and additional expenses, and not just pass a law.
If there are some owners who fail to comply then the Buildings Department should be authorized to issue a “when and where” contract, hire companies and do it for the owners at a 50% markup, and there will be NO tax credit.

I urge the Mayor’s Office of Community Assistance to continue their great efforts in finding permanent housing and offering burial assistance for victims’ families.  Let’s make their job easier by ending all such future horrors. 

We need to FIX this problem. ASAP.

This is Councilman Rubٞén Díaz and this is what you should know. 

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