In response to the Bronx Apartment Fire in January
On Monday, May 11, the Senate Democratic Majority advanced legislation to improve guidelines, oversight, and enforcement necessary for preventing house fires. The proposed bills would update the fire prevention and building code more frequently; expand remedies for code violations; address investigations into the administration and enforcement of these codes; establish new emergency contact requirements for managers of multi-family buildings; increase testing of fire hydrants; institute new requirements for the inspection of non-fireproof buildings; strengthen space-heater safety regulations, and establish an Ombudsperson for Local Code Enforcement Programs and increase the code enforcement powers of the Secretary of State.
This package comes in the wake of several deadly blazes in New York, most notably the Bronx apartment fire on January 9 of this year. This tragedy, which claimed 17 lives, including 8 children, was caused and compounded by multiple safety regulation failures. New York surpasses the national average for fire-related injuries and deaths, with 68 casualties reported already this year. These disasters often affect immigrant and low-income populations, who are less able to absorb the costs of displacement and rebuild in the aftermath of a disaster. This legislation furthers the New York Senate Majority’s efforts to raise the floor for our most vulnerable, and improve the quality of life for everyone in our State.
“It has been over thirty years since the penalties for housing standards were established in New York City, and since that time our community has experienced immense tragedy due to negligence and lack of adherence to these policies. While we can never remove the pain and suffering for the families of the 17 lives claimed in the Twin Parks fire in my district in The Bronx, we can do everything possible to prevent this tragedy from happening again. Today, my bill S.8795A, will increase the antiquated penalties and provide an incentive for adherence to housing code standards. Our families deserve to live in safe and stable housing,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, sponsor of bill S.8795A, one of the 10 measures included in this bill package.
The Senate Majority passed the following legislation:
Violations Of Building and Fire Code Standards: This bill, S.8795A, sponsored by Senator Gustavo Rivera, imposes certain penalties related to violations of building and fire code standards within fourteen days and increases certain fine amounts for violations of housing standards in New York City.
Fire Safety Standards for Space Heaters: This bill, S.7863A, sponsored by Senator Cordell Cleare, requires space heaters distributed or sold in the state or to persons located in the state to have thermostats, automatic shut-offs and be certified by a testing and certification body recognized and approved by the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Fine Increase For Building Code Violations: This bill, S.4708, sponsored by Senator Leroy Comrie, expands remedies for violations of New York State uniform fire prevention and building code and addresses penalties for willful or repeated code violations.
Update to State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code: This bill, S.6210A, sponsored by Senator James Skoufis, directs the state fire prevention and building code council to update the state fire prevention and building code and the state energy conservation construction code within 12 months of the publication of any updated or revised edition of the international and national codes relating thereto, so as to ensure that the state's codes reflect such revisions and updates.
Investigations into Fire Prevention and Building Code Administration: This bill, S.1830, sponsored by Senator James Skoufis, relates to conducting investigations into the administration and enforcement of the New York State uniform fire prevention and building code and the New York state energy conservation construction code.
Safety For Multi-Residential Homes: This bill, S.240B, sponsored by Senator Shelley Mayer, requires owners and agents of multiple residences and multiple dwellings to provide names and contact information of residents to emergency personnel in an emergency situation, so as to ensure that residents are safely evacuated and accounted for.
Fire Hydrant Systems Test: This bill, S.5093A, sponsored by Senator Tim Kennedy, increases the Testing of Fire Hydrant Systems in accordance with the standards established by the National Fire Protection Association.
Non-Fireproof Inspections: This bill, S.6089A, sponsored by Senator Robert Jackson, requires the inspection of non-fireproof buildings and compliance with the New York property maintenance code.
Fire Protection System Installation Licenser: This bill, S.6761A, sponsored by Senator Diane Savino, creates a licensing and regulatory structure for fire suppression systems that require professionals who perform work on fire suppression systems to be licensed.
Increasing State Code Enforcement Powers: This bill S.3606, sponsored by Senator Jamaal Bailey, establishes an Ombudsperson for Local Code Enforcement Programs and Increases the Code Enforcement Powers of the Secretary of the State.