More than 100 Bronx residents were displaced from their homes after a fire broke out at their housing complex early morning on July 12. According to an NBC New York news report, the fire occurred at 1466 Watson Avenue. But, residents said, to their surprise, the smoke detectors remained silent and that the only alarm they heard was the sound of their neighbors pounding on their doors telling them to get out. One woman said since the smoke detectors did not alert the building’s occupants, the injuries could have been a lot worse if not for those residents who had rushed to warn their neighbors. At least 20 families were displaced.
FDNY officials said the fire was complicated because it originated in the cockloft, the space between the roof and third floor ceiling. They said the fire spread very quickly to other connected buildings. FDNY said it could be a while before residents can safely enter the building. The third floor sustained the worst fire and smoke damage. Most of the windows were shattered and the ceiling caved in. One resident was injured and in serious condition, reports said. Also, four firefighters and two residents sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
The Importance of Having Working Smoke Alarms
According to the FDNY, nearly two-thirds of fatal fires in the city involve smoke alarms that don’t work. When it comes to protecting the residents of a home from burns and smoke inhalation injuries, smoke detectors and fire alarms play a crucial role. Several studies show that smoke inhalation injuries cause more fire-related fatalities than burn injuries. Landlords, property owners and managing agents are required under New York City’s Housing Maintenance Code to provide, install and maintain smoke detecting devices in each unit.
According to a report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) issued in January 2019, between 2012 and 2016, smoke alarms were present in 74 percent of home fires reported to U.S. fire departments and sounded in more than half of those fire incidents. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports that nearly three out of every five home fire fatalities were the result of fires in homes that did not have smoke alarms (60 percent) or lack of working smoke alarms (17 percent).
New York City’s code requires that all smoke detectors be of the type that emits an audible notification at the expiration of the useful life of the alarm. The New York City Housing Maintenance Code requires property owners, landlords and/or property managers to provide, install and maintain smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in each unit. Not only should these life-saving devices be present, but they should also be in good working order. The American Red Cross estimates that having a working smoke alarm in a home reduces the risk of a fire-related accident death by as much as 51 percent. Sprinklers and smoke alarms together reduce the risk of a home fire death by 82 percent.
Property owners and property managers have a responsibility to ensure that their buildings are maintained to code requirements and that the installed smoke alarms and sprinklers are in good working order. When a fire accident is caused by negligence (carelessness) or a lack of property maintenance, property owners and/or property managers may be held liable for the injuries and loss of life that occurs. Injured victims or families of deceased victims can file a premises liability lawsuit against the liable parties including, but not limited to, the landlord, property owner, property manager, etc.
Compensation for NYC Fire Victims
If you or a loved one has been injured in a fire, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Our firm obtained a $985,000 settlement out of a $1 million policy for two people who suffered smoke inhalation injuries because the homeowner did not have smoke detectors installed and the $15,000 that was left on the insurance policy was for a person that we did not represent. One of our clients recovered $2,500,000 due to a faulty space heater. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
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