|In the wake of multiple fires in New York City, causing irreparable damage to property and leaving dozens of residents injured and homeless, it wouldn’t be surprising if NYC residents start demanding that city apartment buildings and condominiums start installing more than the standard one smoke alarm per unit.
On March 26, a seven-alarm fire broke out across four apartment buildings in Manhattan’s East Village, according to Reuters, and three of those buildings ended up collapsing completely. It’s reported that 11 apartment buildings in the area were evacuated, however, leaving many residents homeless for a few days.
The fire caused 22 individual injuries, and a few days later on Sunday, March 29, rescue workers (with some assistance from trained rescue dogs) discovered the remains of two people who had been unaccounted for.
The country’s initial reaction was one of immense fear; the magnitude of the fire caused many people to speculate that it could have been the work of a terrorist organization.
Instead, investigators discovered that the fire was caused by a gas explosion nearby. While it’s possible that the explosion resulted from gas line or plumbing work in a basement, Mayor de Blasio told press that the explosion was most likely caused by someone illegally tapping into the system.
Reuters has noted that workers from utility company Con Edison had visited the site back in August 2014, whereupon they decided the gas lines were creating a hazardous situation. After being shut off for 10 days during repair work, it appeared that the “hazard” had been solved.
Just one day later, while firefighters in the East Village were still trying to get the fire under control, another fire broke out in the early morning hours of March 27 in a six-story apartment building located at the corner of East 66th Street and First Avenue. Although it only took a few hours for firefighters to control the three-alarm fire, Gothamist noted that 28 individual apartments were damaged and five firefighters were injured.
City Councilmember Ben Kallos acknowledged the severity of both fires in an official statement on March 27, but also attempted to put a good spin on the situation. “In both instances,” Kallos explained to the press, “they [firefighters in the FDNY] showed that they are truly New York’s bravest, and their hard work and courage saved lives. We owe them an incredible debt of gratitude.”
But with so many residents now left with few possessions and no place to live, it’s clear that the reactive measures of the city’s emergency response teams still weren’t as effective as preventative measures that can be taken in residential buildings, such as adding extra smoke alarms and having clear emergency escape routes planned.
There’s no doubt that city residents are thankful that both fires were controlled relatively quickly — but it may been sooner rather than later that residents also start asking for better safety measures in residential buildings.