Torres introduces new bipartisan fire safety legislation in hopes of preventing another Twin Parks

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen attends the House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington
Representative Ritchie Torres speaks during the House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., September 30, 2021.
Al Drago/Pool via REUTERS

On Wednesday, U.S Rep. Ritchie Torres introduced new bipartisan federal legislation to permit the United States Fire Administration (USFA) to assist local firefighter investigators after a major fire.

The “Empowering the U.S. Fire Administration Act”  comes as a result of the recent Twin Parks North West apartment building fire in the Fordham Heights section of the Bronx that took the lives of 17 New Yorkers, including eight children, as a result of a faulty space heater. It is part of a federal legislative package to solve the underlying issues that caused the deadly fire and prevent future tragedies, according to Torres, a Bronx progressive.

The new legislation would authorize the USFA to send safety specialists, fire protection engineers, codes and standards experts, researchers and fire training specialists to collaborate and assist local firefighter investigators in their investigation. The bill also requires the USFA to issue a report in coordination with federal, state and local authorities on their findings, and to provide recommendations to federal, state and local officials to implement to prevent similar fires from occurring in the future.

It’s been two months since the horrific fire at Twin Parks North West, and the Bronx community is still reeling from the loss of 17 individuals,” Torres said in a statement. “Tragic fires like Twin Parks North West are not isolated cases. We have seen similar fires occur in other cities throughout the country, and it is past time for the federal government to sit by and do nothing.”

That is why I am proud to introduce the ‘Empowering the U.S. Fire Administration Act.’ This legislation will allow the USFA to have their fire specialists on the ground working with our local firefighters to investigate and issue recommendations on how to prevent fires like Twin Parks North West from happening again. This bill also complements other fire safety legislation I introduced in the House to prevent future fire tragedies.”

 The legislation joins a broader fire safety legislative package introduced in Congress by Torres. The package includes: 

  • HR 6615: requires a universal safety standard for space heaters.
  • HR 6529: requires all federally-funded rental residential buildings to have self-closing doors.
  • HR 6528: requires all federally-funded rental residential buildings to have heat sensors.

Torres’ most recent bill is supported by the NYC Fire Department, International Association of Fire Chiefs and the International Association of Fire Fighters.

For more coverage of the Twin Parks fire:

Fifteen Bronx fire victims remembered at heartbreaking funeral service

Schumer and Torres unveil 4-point federal fire safety package in response to Bronx fire

Gillibrand and Torres unveil safety proposals in wake of Fordham Heights fire