BRONX, NY: Today, Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) was joined by members of the Bronx Task Force on Fire Safety, Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson, Assembly Member Yudelka Tapia, and Council Members Oswald Feliz and Pierina Sanchez, to announce the first slate of federal legislative and policy recommendations to solve the underlying issues that caused the deadly fire at Twin Parks North West. The Task Force aims to take legislative action on a city, state, and federal level to prevent future fire tragedies.
“It is no accident that the four worst fires in New York City’s history in the last thirty years have all been in the Bronx. The tragedy at Twin Parks North West only underscores that we must take federal action to ensure tenants have safe and affordable homes no matter their zip code. Currently what the law requires often falls short of what tenants need to remain warm in their homes. The feeling of freezing in apartments causes tenants to resort to space heaters out of sheer desperation. The task force aims to take swift action to address fire code and safety violations, as well as require high standards of living, especially in places like the Bronx where we see the effects of an aging housing market. I am thankful for the work of my colleagues in the Bronx and we will continue to honor the lives lost as by taking immediate action to prevent another fire tragedy,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15).
The initial slate of federal legislation will tackle the root causes of the fire including space heaters, self-closing doors, and compliance with fire codes. Rep. Torres will introduce these bills in the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming weeks. He will also continue to fight in Congress for improved housing quality and standards, beginning with the federal legislation detailed below:
- A federal law to require space heaters to have an automatic shutoff and to require the Commission on Consumer Product Safety to establish mandatory safety standards for the manufacturing of space heaters.
- A federal law requiring federally funded or regulated multi-family developments to have self-closing doors (on apartment units, stairwells, etc.) and requiring owners and operators to inspect and certify—under penalty of perjury, on a monthly basis—that the doors are properly functioning and self-closing.
- A federal law requiring the installation of heat sensors in all federally funded or regulated multi-family housing developments. HUD, as well as the state and local housing administrator, shall receive real-time reports that flag when the level of heating in a unit is out of compliance with Housing Quality Standards when it comes to heat.
COMPLIANCE WITH ALL STATE & LOCAL BUILDING, FIRE, & HOUSING CODES
- A federal law clarifying that federally funded or regulated multi-family housing developments are required to comply with state and local building, fire, and housing codes.
HOUSING QUALITY STANDARD (HQS) INSPECTIONS
- A federal law to require HUD to disclose the results of HQS inspections in a publicly searchable online database.
“The fire at 333 Twin Parks North West was a horrific tragedy and one that should never happen again. Having access to heat and feeling safe and secure in your apartment should never be a privilege for a select few in our city, but instead should be a universal right for all New Yorkers regardless of their zip code or socioeconomic status. I want to thank my colleagues, Congressman Ritchie Torres, Assembly Member Yudelka Tapia, Council Members Oswald Feliz and Pierina Sanchez for their partnership and collaboration in forming a Bronx Task Force on Fire Safety that will introduce legislation that will take a comprehensive approach at addressing the inequities that lead to these deadly fires in our city. The loss of lives at Twin Parks North West is unacceptable and it is up to all of us to honor those we have lost by taking action to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in our borough and across our country,” said Bronx Borough President Vannesa L. Gibson.
“I want to thank my colleagues in government who collaborated on this Task Force to bring about truly impactful legislation to prevent a fire disaster like this to ever happen again. The Bronx has been victimized by such events too often and it needs to come to an end. The standards that will be set by this legislation at the federal, state and city levels will save and improve the quality of lives of many. Thank you Congress Member Ritchie Torres for leading the way on a federal level and thank you to our Bronx BP Gibson, Council Members Feliz and Sanchez for the great teamwork,” said NY Assembly Member Yudelka Tapia (AD86).
“The United States has one of the highest fire death rates in the industrialized world, with thousands of lives lost each year. Fires kill more Americans than all other natural disasters combined, and are the third leading cause of accidental death in the home. I am proud to stand in support of Congressman Ritchie Torres in announcing proposed legislation today that will improve fire safety in homes not only in the Bronx and New York City, but across the country. The tragedy that occurred at Twin Parks West must never be allowed to occur again,” said New York City Council Member Pierina Sanchez (District 14)