Queens lawmaker seeks more information from Fire Department about deadly blazes

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One Queens lawmaker is sounding the alarm on fatal fires across the city.

The City Council recently voted to pass a bill — Intro. 1294, sponsored by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, chair of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services — which would require the Fire Department to gather detailed information about fatal fires and share that information with the public, specifically what type of fire alarm was in the home at the time of the fire.

The bill would also require information from the Chief Medical Examiner about the cause of death to be collected and disseminated to the public and lawmakers.

New York City law requires that all residences and buildings have one of two different types of smoke alarms, either an ionization alarm or a photoelectric alarm. While both systems detect flames, the photoelectric alarms can better detect smoke or a smoldering fire.

The majority of fire-related deaths are due to smoke inhalation.

“Fire fatalities are at an all-time low, but one fire-related death is still one too many. Last year, the city had 48,” Crowley said. “We have a responsibility to do all we can to save as many lives as possible through common-sense policy.”

Right now, it is only known if there was a working smoke alarm at the location when a fatal fire occurs. It is not known what type of fire alarm was present. According to Crowley, in nearly 25 percent of fatal fires across the city, a working fire alarm is present but does not go off in time to save lives.

“It’s so important we have comprehensive information about fires that injure New Yorkers,” Crowley said. “Through this legislation, we can see how certain deaths correlate with the use of a certain type of smoke alarms, and make the changes needed to save more lives.”

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