Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15), with the support of U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kristin Gillibrand announced that the “Empowering the U.S. Fire Administration Act,” bipartisan federal fire legislation that was written in response to the Twin Parks North West apartment building fire, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday and previously passed in the Senate last week. The bill now heads to the President’s desk for his signature. The “Empowering the U.S. Fire Administration Act,” HR 7077, gives the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) more power to investigate major fires to determine the cause and any systemic issues at play. The USFA then must issue a public report on their findings in coordination with local, state, and federal authorities.
“Following the horrific Bronx fire at Twin Parks North West, Rep. Torres, Senator Gillibrand, and I, along with many of the Bronx’s local officials, pushed to urge a culture of safety in buildings like Twin Parks and pledged to use legislative action to make it happen,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “To honor the 17 lives lost, we must do everything we can to protect people and prevent these tragedies in the first place. The ‘Empowering the U.S. Fire Administration Act’ will do just that by enabling federal, state and local authorities to work together to investigate major fires and report their findings to prevent such tragedies from happening again.”
“The Empowering the U.S. Fire Administration Act will enable the USFA to conduct on-site investigations of major fires, and will pool resources from federal, state, and local levels to assist local firefighter investigators. This bill will help us prevent another tragedy like the Twin Parks North West fire, one of the worst tragedies in 30 years,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
“Today, we honor the 17 lives lost in the Twin Parks North West fire in the Bronx with legislative action,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15). “Fires like the one in my district earlier this year are not isolated incidents, and we must fully investigate these kinds of fires, so no life is ever lost in vain. Enabling the US Fire Administration to share lessons learned with governments at all levels in the hopes of transforming those lessons into policies and practices is key to effective fire prevention. Every time a fire breaks out and a life is lost, I am reminded of a simple injunction: those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Simply enabling the USFA to learn from the deadliest fires so that we as a nation never repeat them. I am thankful for the bipartisan and bicameral support this bill has received to send this commonsense legislation to President Biden’s desk. ”
“On behalf of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, I thank Congress for passing the Empowering U.S. Fire Administration Act,” said Chief Donna Black, the President and Board Chair. “Especially as we begin the winter season, we as the Fire Service cannot express enough the importance of fire safety and taking steps to reduce deaths, injuries, and property loss due to fires. Representative Torres’ bill will provide the means to better learn from major fire incidents and prevent tragedies in the future.”
The legislation authorizes the USFA to send safety specialists, fire protection engineers, codes and standards experts, researchers, and fire training specialists to collaborate and assist local firefighter investigators in their investigation. The bill also requires the USFA to issue a report in coordination with federal, state, and local authorities on their findings and to provide recommendations to federal, state, and local officials to implement to prevent similar fires from occurring in the future.