Hoping to prevent large-scale apartment fires like the one on Jan. 9 at the Twin Parks North West high-rise in Fordham Heights, Mayor Eric Adams signed an executive order Sunday that looks to increase coordination between fire officials and the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) inspectors to identify fire safety violations earlier.
The executive order mandates that HPD inspectors look for fire safety compliance and report lack of fire safety signage to the FNDY, in addition to providing the department with all fire safety violations since January 2021, facilitating more FDNY inspections for buildings with high violations.
At the time of the Twin Parks fire that killed 17 and displaced more than 100 families, the 52-year-old building had been flagged with 18 open violations, and 174 total violations since new ownership Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC took over in 2020, records filed with the city HPD show.
A year before the fire, a fire safety inspection was scheduled for Twin Parks to inspect the high-rise’s standpipe system, but fire officials assigned to the inspection were diverted to a COVID task force to ensure restaurants followed pandemic guidelines, Oren Barzilay, president of fire union Local 2507, revealed at a hearing before the New York City Council Committee on Fire and Emergency Management last week.
“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 statement. “As we continue providing critical support for the families affected by the fire, we are working closely with Borough President (Vanessa) Gibson, Councilmember (Oswald) 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.”
The FDNY and HPD will also be responsible for conducting an educational fire safety outreach campaign, including education related to smoke detectors and self-closing doors, the latter of which malfunctioned at Twin Parks causing smoke to spread quickly throughout the building, fire officials said.
Additionally, the city said it will work with the City Council to enact a slew of fire safety proposals, including sprinkler system legislation and legislation that increases fines for landlords who falsely report curing a self-closing door violation.
“We are turning our pain into purpose and making sure we protect future New Yorkers,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson. “Today’s executive order strengthening fire safety enforcement and outreach is a proactive step that will save lives and help ensure we do not have a repeat of what occurred in January at Twin Parks. I want to thank Mayor Adams, FDNY, and HPD, as well as our partners on the federal level and the Fire Safety Task Force, for their collaboration on this important issue. Interagency communication is key in preventing the next tragic fire from occurring in our city.”
Reach Robbie Sequeira at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.