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Fire safety campaign launched at LeFrak City after deadly blaze

By Juan Soto

Prevention can save lives.

In response to the New Year’s Eve fatal fire that killed three members of a Lefrak City family, the FDNY and elected officials launched a fire safety campaign to try to prevent similar tragedies from happening.

Louise Jean-Charles, 59; her husband Napoleon Michel, 69; and cousin Nadia Donnay, 37, died in the blaze while they were cooking a traditional Haitian soup to celebrate the new year.

“New Yorkers awoke on New Year’s Day to the news of the horrific tragedy that struck LeFrak City just as we were ringing in 2015,” said state Sen. José Peralta (D-East Elmhurst). “If not for the courage of our firefighters in the face of difficult conditions, it might very well have been an even worse tragedy.”

The first fire safety workshop took place Wednesday. Four more will be held on Jan. 21 at LeFrak’s Rome Tower at 6 p.m., and on Jan. 29 at LeFrak Senior Center (12 p.m.), at the LeFrak City Library (4 p.m.) and at St. Paul’s the Apostle Church, at 98-16 55th Ave. (7:30 p.m.)

“The lesson from the fire is that a working smoke alarm can be a life-saving piece of home safety equipment,” Peralta said.

City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) said there was no working smoke detector in the apartment where the fire erupted.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said smoke alarms can prevent tragedies.

“In the aftermath of this tragic fire, FDNY Fire Safety Education teams responded to LeFrak City to bring a critical message to every resident: Working smoke alarms save lives.”

Nigro noted, “This message will be repeated this month at LeFrak City, and thousands of times throughout the year, as we strive to educate every community in our city.”

Gerald Rivera, manager of LeFrak Maintenance Services, said the complex owners are in the process of replacing all detectors with the new smoke-detector that have a non-removable, non-replaceable battery that powers the alarm for at least 10 years.

“LeFrak City has a proactive program to replace all campus detectors over a two-year period,” Rivera said.

A spokeswoman for the apartment complex said the building had no fire code violations. She added that the apartment where the fire broke out “was outfitted with smoke detectors as required by law. A smoke detector rider attesting to the presence of this life safety equipment was signed and initialed by the tenant in 2012.”

Smoke detector batteries will be available at the workshops.

All residents of the housing complex “should have the information they need to keep their families and homes safe,” Ferreras said.

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto‌@cngl‌ocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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