Two separate fires that broke out over the weekend claimed three lives including two young girls, ages 7 and 9, and a 60-year-old paraplegic man in a wheelchair. According to news reports, the first incident occurred the night of Dec. 7 in the basement of a one-story house on East Hampton Boulevard at 56th Avenue in Bayside, Queens. It took firefighters nearly 45 minutes to bring the flames under control. They found the man deceased in the basement apparently trapped and overcome by smoke. An ABC report stated the cause of the fire was accidental and electrical. Also, there was no smoke alarm in the unit.
The second fire occurred Dec. 9 in a Brooklyn apartment. The victims were two girls who were visiting their grandfather for the weekend. The fire reportedly erupted at about 11 p.m. after everyone had gone to sleep. Firefighters were able to rescue the girls from a bedroom at the rear of the second-floor apartment. Rescuers unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate the girls who were pronounced dead at a local hospital. Their grandfather was hospitalized in stable condition. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. It is not known if the unit was equipped with smoke alarms. Our thoughts and prayers are with these grieving families.
NYC Fire Statistics
According to FDNY’s statistics, there were a total of 26,484 structural fires in New York City in 2017. Fire deaths increased by more than 50 percent in New York City in 2017 after a record-low in 2016. In 2017, there were 73 civilian fire deaths, 25 more than in 2016, when the city had 48 deaths, the fewest in a century.
In December 2017 alone, there were 26 civilian fire deaths, the highest number in any month in decades, FDNY said. Half of the December fire deaths were in the Dec. 28 Bronx fire, in which a fast-moving blaze consumed every floor of a Belmont apartment building, killing 13 people. More than half or 53 percent of the deadly fires in 2017 were in places with no working smoke alarms, fire officials said.
Structural fires often result in two main types of injuries: burn injuries and smoke inhalation injuries. While we think of burn injuries as the most common cause of death in fires, it must be noted that smoke inhalation is in fact the primary cause of death for victims of residential fires. These are injuries caused by the inhalation or exposure to hot gases produced by combustion. All fire-related injuries, whether they are burns or smoke inhalation injuries, require prompt medical attention, treatment and care.
What Do NYC Laws State?
The best protection against fires and smoke inhalation injuries is to have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in residential units. The New York City Housing Maintenance Code requires landlords and property owners and/or property managers to provide, install and maintain smoke detecting devices in each unit. All smoke detectors shall be of the type that emits an audible notification at the expiration of the useful life of the alarm.
Smoke alarms undeniably save lives and protect against injury and property loss caused by structural fires. The American Red Cross states the fire death rate in homes with working smoke alarms is 51 percent less than the rate for homes that lack such protection. So, having a working smoke alarm reduces the chance of death by fire or smoke inhalation by nearly half. Sprinklers and smoke alarms together cut your risk of dying in a home fire by 82 percent in relation to having neither.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
In cases where the lack of working smoke alarms or sprinklers contributes to serious injuries, the victims or families of deceased victims can file a premises liability claim against the at-fault parties including, but not limited to, the landlord, property owner, property manager, etc. Property owners and/or property managers are responsible for maintaining their properties and ensuring that they are safe for tenants, visitors and guests.
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 was left for a person that we did not represent. One of our clients recovered $2,500,000 due to a faulty space heater.
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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