By Naeisha Rose
A town hall for fire safety awareness was held last week at the Campus Magnet High School, just two blocks from Melody Edwards’ wake at Mount Moriah AME Church in Cambria Heights hours earlier.
Edwards was one of five young victims who perished in a four-alarm blaze in Queens Village April 23. The four others were family friends who lived in the frame home at 112-16 208th St.
State Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), state Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens) and Councilman Daneek Miller (D.-St. Albans) spoke at the May 4 event, along with Jessica Douglas from the Mayor’s Office and fire officials.
“We come to events like these to prevent tragedies, and by letting friends and family know,” said Douglas.
Comrie emphasized that this was an “opportunity to make your home was safe and make sure that you are protected.”
Hyndman stressed the need to learn from mistakes.
“I think that it is unfortunate that we gather here because a whole family was engulfed in flames,” Hyndman said. “As we lay the families to rest this week, let’s make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
The last to speak was Miller.
“A tragedy is a terrible thing to waste,” Miller said. “We are going to take it back this evening by ensuring that our community gets the proper information and the proper education.”
Educating the residents of Community Board 13 from the FDNY were Queens Borough Commander Edward J. Baggott and Lt. Frank Manetta.
“When it comes to fatal fires in New York, the pattern here is the smoke detector is missing or the batteries were removed,” Baggott said. “Last year, there were 48 fatal fires.”
Baggott suggested that if you are on the second floor of a building engulfed by fire, you should jump and risk breaking bones because “at least you are not going to die,” He also, said people trying to put out fires with extinguishers should not and “if you hear the alert, get everyone out of the building within 10 minutes.”
The fire at the Queens Village home was not called in for six minutes, and then it took another four minutes for Engine 304 and Engine 165 to respond.
Manetta reiterated some of Baggott’s points and added the caveat that civilians should become familiar with how to use a fire extinguisher so they can have it as a tool of escape.
The No. 1 cause of fires is kitchen-related incidents and the No, 1 cause of fire fatalities is electrical wiring.
Both recommend having smoke alarms on each floor, including the basement and attic if those are being rented to an individual.
Both suggested using the new lithium-powered, combo carbon monoxide and smoke detectors that have a 10-year life. The alarm has three beeps for fires and five for carbon monoxide detection.
At the end of the event, Disaster Manager Gary Chin of the American Red Cross signed people up for free installations of the combination detectors.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose