Following Deutsche Bank Fire, Squadron-Gottfried Legislation Created Task Force to Address Discrepancies Between City, State Building Code; New Report Highlights Risk
Squadron: Different Standards Create Risk for First Responders, Public
NEW YORK -- State Senator Daniel Squadron is urging state and city agencies to immediately close major holes in the safety code at hundreds of state-owned buildings throughout the city, after a task force created by Squadron-Gottfried legislation underscored the risk facing New York's first responders and the public.
Following the August 2007 Deutsche Bank fire and the tragic deaths of two firefighters, Squadron and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried passed legislation to create a joint New York City - New York State Task Force on Building and Fire Safety.
The task force, which was chaired by FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano and State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jerome Hauer, just issued its report highlighting the danger posed by discrepancies in fire codes that allow state-owned buildings in New York City to remain exempt from critical standards. The hundreds of state-owned buildings throughout the city include a number of buildings at Brooklyn College, City College, Hunter College, and other universities; the Jacob Javits Convention Center; Downstate Medical Center; various state office buildings and facilities; and buildings that are leased out to commercial tenants like restaurants and salons.
"Simply put, these major gaps in fire code put our first responders and the public at greater risk. The task force's recommendations will go a long way toward closing these holes and improving safety -- but they must be implemented now," said Senator Squadron. "Thank you to Commissioners Cassano and Hauer and the entire task force for a comprehensive and thoughtful report. I look forward to working together to make these recommendations an immediate reality."
In particular, Squadron is urging the City and State to immediately:
- Create consistent standards for equipment in the building, such as standpipes and hosethread connnections.
- Ensure that hazardous materials and explosives are properly reported.
- Ensure that our first responders have the critical information they need when they arrive at the scene of an emergency, which means the State must regularly update the FDNY on building layout, construction, and other changes
- Notify affected tenants and businesses now so they have adequate time to comply with the recommendations.
Those gaps in city and state fire code likely were a factor in the Deutsche Bank tragedy that claimed the lives of firefighters Joseph Graffagnino and Robert Beddia.