Following the Tragic Twin Parks Fire in the Bronx, the City Continues to Strengthen Fire Safety Outreach and Enforcement to Keep New Yorkers Safe
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) celebrate the progress of the City’s “Keeping Homes Fire Safe” campaign reaching over 60,000 New Yorkers with life-saving fire safety information and strengthening ties between the City agencies overseeing fire and housing safety enforcement. The five-borough outreach campaign builds on existing fire safety messaging and engaged thousands of households and property owners with valuable information on fire protection and keeping buildings safe.
Knowledge about fire safety saves lives. As part of the campaign, the agencies participated in dozens of neighborhood outreach events, developed a wide-reaching digital and social media campaign, and targeted educational communications materials to thousands of property owners and residents. Under the Keeping Homes Fire Safe, 6 Ways to Keep Your Home Fire Safe, and Close the Door Stop a Fire from Spreading headings, FDNY and HPD delivered life-saving information and tips. Education materials are available in 10 languages, and residents could request FDNY and HPD to conduct education events in their communities.
“We cannot and will not wait for the next tragedy to take action on fire safety,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “With Executive Order 12, our administration is prioritizing proactive fire safety actions and education. And this is just the beginning – we will continue working across the government and in partnership with property owners and all New Yorkers to promote best practices to keep all of our city’s residents safe.”
“HPD and FDNY work hand-in-hand to prevent residential fires and equip New Yorkers with information to keep their homes fire safe,” said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “This renewed commitment to keep New Yorkers safe from fires is a direct result of an executive order issued by Mayor Adams and local laws passed by the City Council to protect New Yorkers. We’re glad to continue partnering with FDNY as we strive to prevent tragedies like Twin Parks from ever happening again.”
“Fire prevention and education is essential to the Department’s mission of saving lives,” said Acting Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh. “This new partnership will allow us to expand our fire safety education outreach, which will in turn save lives. We are grateful to Mayor Adams for his Executive Order, because this new alliance with HPD will bring this critical lifesaving information directly to even more residents across the city. More New Yorkers will have smoke alarms and they will learn fire prevention, how to safely escape and how to stop fires from spreading.”
Executive Order 12, signed in March after the tragic Twin Parks fire in the Bronx, mandated greater collaboration between FDNY and HPD to enhance fire safety outreach and enforcement. Along with new protocols for identifying property posted fire safety material and new inter-agency communications, HPD and FDNY successfully fulfilled Mayor Eric Adams’ mandate following one of the worst building fires in New York City history.
‘Keeping Homes Fire Safe’
- Neighborhood Engagement Tour: In April, HPD and FDNY kicked off a months-long engagement tour with more than 45 neighborhood outreach events scheduled throughout August. HPD’s Outreach Van provides a wide range of information from how to file a housing complaint and apply for affordable housing while raising awareness about residential and fire safety. Residents could also sign up for free smoke alarm installations through the Sound the Alarm Program initiative with FDNY and American Red Cross. Since 2015, the initiative has resulted in the installation and distribution of over 270,000 smoke alarms in the homes of over 54,000 New Yorkers.
- Web and Social Media Campaign: HPD and FDNY led a five-figure paid advertising campaign across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google with branded graphics in English, Spanish and Chinese. A social media toolkit was distributed to all city agencies. The paid ads were viewed nearly 11 million times across digital sites and drove nearly 60,000 ad clicks to HPD’s fire safety landing page.
- Owners Outreach: Property owners were targeted with communications about their fire safety responsibilities in residential buildings. In June, a robocall campaign reminded 50,000 property owners of self-closing doors rules and other regulations to keep smoke and flames from spreading in the event of a fire. HPD’s monthly email bulletin to 36,000 property owners also included information and resources about recent changes to fire safety regulations.
- Stove Knob Covers: Local Law 44 of 2022 requires owners of multiple dwellings to annually inform tenants of their right to request stove knob covers or permanent safety knobs for gas stoves. Owners were notified about the updated law in June.
Strengthening Fire Safety Enforcement
- Self-Closing Doors Local Law 63 of 2022 also amends the New York City Administrative Code concerning self-closing door corrections, false certifications of correction of violations, and penalties for self-closing door violations. Owners are required to keep and maintain self-closing doors or face a class C immediately hazardous violation. In addition, the law reduces the window of time a landlord has to correct a violation from 21 days to 14 days.
- Data Sharing: The executive order required HPD and FDNY to increase coordination and data-sharing for all violations related to fire safety. As a result, a data share system to provide monthly fire safety violation information to FDNY was implemented. In addition, a historical file containing fire violations from the last five years was provided to FDNY. Going forward, FDNY will identify how HPD data can regularly inform their methodologies for identifying buildings at higher risk of fatal fires. The data sharing requirement in Executive Order 12 was later codified in Local Law 71 of 2022.
- Fire Safety Notices: As a result of the executive order, HPD housing inspectors started checking for fire safety notices required to be posted on apartment doors under the New York City Fire Code. Fire safety notices instruct tenants and owners on what to do in the event of a fire. Owners are notified of missing or damaged signage. The Fire Department is also notified about this missing signage for any appropriate action.
- Training: In June 2022, HPD completed additional training for over 350 field staff, including housing inspectors and emergency repair staff who might inspect self-closing doors. FDNY and HPD continue to work together to share best practices for self-closing door inspections to enhance and standardize door inspection procedures across agencies.
- Encouraging Self-Reporting: Starting in September, HPD will post signage in buildings with a self-closing door violation educating tenants on why it is necessary for self-closing doors to work properly, encouraging tenants to report the problem first to their landlord, and then to call 311 if the landlord does not address the condition in a timely manner.
In addition to the progress made so far, HPD and FDNY will continue to implement changes over the course of 2023, including:
- Re-inspections: Starting in January 2023, HPD will reinspect all self-closing door violations within 20 days of the date the owner was required to correct the violation.
- Proactive Inspection: Starting in July 2023, HPD will inspect common area doors in 300 buildings each year and report on this effort. FDNY will help identify where to inspect. In the meantime As mentioned, FDNY will use the HPD data to regularly inform their existing methodologies for identifying buildings at higher risk of fatal fires.
- Refined Training: The agencies will continue working together to developing training protocols and identifying enforcement and education initiatives to reduce the likelihood of tragic fires.