Residential Fire Safety – How To Respond To An Emergency

Residential Fire Safety – How To Respond To An Emergency

An extra-alarm fire broke out in the high-rise at 500 W. 43rd St. Sunday January 5th, 2014.

Victims Of Manhattan High-Rise Fire May Have Been Safe Inside Apartment – FDNY

Residential Fire Safety

Residential Fire Safety

In a fireproof/fire resistant high-rise building the safest place to be is in your own apartment. This is because the building is constructed of steel and concrete which keeps the fire and smoke confined to the original apartment until the fire department opens the door. At this time smoke, and to a degree, heat and possibly fire, will permeate the hallway. Fighting a fire in a building like this is very time consuming and dangerous. Decisions must be made to protect both those in immediate danger and the firefighters operating to control the fire.

There are several factors that can dramatically change the outcome of a fire in a building of this type. One of the most dangerous being the position of the doors – both to the apartment and the stairs. If the apartment door is open it will make the hallway an extremely dangerous place for both fleeing tenants and working firefighters. If the door to the stairs is left open heavy smoke and heat will travel up the stairway like a chimney – the results of which were seen at the West 43rd St fire.

Fire ExtinguisherThe firefighters will make a choice as to which stairway they will attack the fire from when they arrive at the fire floor. This decision is not made lightly and will depend on factors such as where is the hose connection (they bring the hoses up to the floor below the fire and hook into a valve in the stairwell), how close is the stair to the apartment the fire is in, and whether there are there people in the stairs above. In addition to using one stairway for attack, the FDNY will leave the other for evacuation. No firefighter will open the door to the evacuation stair on the “fire floor” – this will keep it free of smoke. This is why the best thing to do is to stay in your apartment until you are told not only when to leave – if ever; but which stair to take when you do leave.

If you live in a residential building in the city of New York you should be given a Residential Fire Safety Guide each year. This guide will tell you if you are a fireproof building such as the type in this fire of a non-fireproof building, which is made of combustible materials. The evacuation procedures are different in these buildings. The guide will inform you of stairways available to you, the fact that elevators will be out of service, and the number to call in the event of a fire.

Residential Fire Safety Advice

  1. Make sure your building provides an annual Residential Fire Safety Guide.
  2. In the event of a fire, smoke or an alarm – pay attention and start thinking, stay calm, don’t panic.
  3. Be guided by the fire department dispatcher if you speak to one – they are in contact with the chief at the fire and are giving you the best advice.
  4. If you do decide to leave on your own and find that smoke is entering the stairwell – get out on the closest floor you can get to and use your phone to call 911 and alert them to your position.

The news story appeared here:

Police had a large area in front of the building at 43rd Street and 10th Avenue blocked off Monday as debris from the fire continued to rain down on the street.

The blaze broke around 11 a.m. Sunday in an apartment on the 20th floor. 911 operators told residents to stay in their apartments rather than try to escape, but dozens shrugged off the advice.

“We come out and the whole place was full of smoke,” Frank Reynolds, who lives on the 41st floor, said. “The only place to go was on the sundeck on the top, so I was out there on the snow, all I had was a towel.”

“I just panicked just like everybody else,” said resident Jane Elissa.

Among the frightened residents were 27-year-old Daniel McClung and 32-year-old Michael Cohen, newlyweds who lived on the 38th floor. They had tried to escape through the stairwell, but only made it down seven flights before they were overcome with smoke.

“Unfortunately, at this fire, it appears that the victims may have originally been in their apartments, safe,” said FDNY Assistant Fire Chief John Sudnik.

Fire officials say many high-rise buildings, including the one in Sunday’s fire, are specifically designed to trap flames and keep them from spreading. In case of a fire, they stress you are safer opening a window than trying to escape.

“Your first instinct is to leave, but apparently that isn’t the right instinct especially with a fireproof building,” said Elissa.

McClung was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Cohen was hospitalized in stable condition. Abdul Lubis cleans the couple’s apartment every week and was stunned when he heard the news.

“When I heard it the first time, I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “Then I saw the pictures of them, then I start a little bit crying because they’re very nice people.”

So far, the company that manages the building has not responded to requests for comment.  The investigation is ongoing.

Since then, City Councilman Corey Johnson proposed that New York draft additional fire safety legislation to cover residential buildings:

The news story appeared here:

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By | 2014-01-15T14:17:52+00:00 January 15th, 2014|Fire and Life Safety Blog, Fire Safety, Fire Safety Plans|Comments Off on Residential Fire Safety – How To Respond To An Emergency

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