By New York State Senator Mark Grisanti
Among the accomplishments I achieved during my first two years in the state Senate that I am most proud of was a bill that was signed into law that took a number of years to resolve that relates to the safety of all of our firefighters.
Senate Bill No. 7677, which I introduced and passed both the Senate and the state Assembly, requires employers to provide emergency escape systems to firefighters. Specifically, employers must identify if a firefighter will be exposed to entrapment’s at higher levels, identify if those firefighters will be exposed to fire and determine the appropriate escape system.
The bill provides the firefighter community with the latitude to effectively respond to the needs of their locality, to consider appropriate alternatives and to provide communities with the flexibility to outfit their firefighters with the equipment that best suits their unique needs.
Previous laws had inadvertently prevented the firefighting community from using equipment generally recognized to be acceptable because it was not covered in the most recent edition of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1983 Standard on Fire Service Life Safety Rope and System Components.
It is my hope and belief that this law will save lives. I was proud that the Senate took action to help protect the lives of firefighters across New York State as they fight to save the lives of people in their community. The bill has allowed firefighters to keep pace with advancements in technology and allow them to carry certain standard equipment to be used during a self rescue escape.
I firmly believe that is really important that fire departments in jurisdictions where high-rise fires are likely to occur provide all fire fighters with escape ropes and the appropriate training to utilize their ropes during emergencies.
As many of you reading this may recall, two firefighters were killed and four others were badly injured in January 2005 when they were forced to jump from a fourth-floor window of a burning building in the Bronx. That day, forever known as “Black Sunday,” also saw a third firefighter die while fighting a basement fire in Brooklyn and then another die in a different location in the Bronx.
An internal FDNY report later found that among other things there was a failure to provide escape ropes, failure to update operational procedures and inadequate training. According to the NFPA, “the fire department shall provide each member with appropriate protective clothing and protective equipment to provide protection from the hazards to which the member is or is likely be exposed.”
I thank The Firefighter Newspaper for allowing me to reflect on one of the accomplishments I am most proud of during my first term in office and look forward to passing more legislation that protects all firefighters. On behalf of my constituents in the 60th Senate District, I thank you all for your service to your community. Your unselfish efforts result in fire protection for all of us, something we should never take for granted.