Deadly Bronx fire spurs new legislation on space heaters
The state Senate unanimously passed new legislation on Monday to help prevent building fires caused by space heaters.
The bill requires electric portable heaters to have a thermostat, automatic shut-off and be certified.
The legislation comes in the wake of a Bronx apartment fire in January that killed 17 people. Fire officials say that fire was caused by a faulty space heater.
Some hardware store owners say due to the dangers, they only sell certified space heaters that already have requirements included in the bill.
"Heater regulation seems to be something that I'm kind of surprised wasn't already in effect,” says John Fix III, the co-owner of Cornell's True Value Hardware. “The law doesn't appear that it would affect us at all because every heater that we've carried, they always have thermostats on them. They all have safety shut-offs if they tip over, and that's a common question for people who worry about it."
First responders say they are looking forward to the bill because it will save many lives.
"I think it's a good step in ensuring the residents of New York are safe and first responders are safe. Most places are most likely selling space heaters that are compliant with the new bill already but it's an important last step to make sure that everyone is compliant,” says Chief Madison Martineau, of the Pleasantville Fire Department.
In a statement, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “New York's painful history on this issue - from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory to the recent Bronx fire - galvanizes us to do more to help save lives. These measures will improve the safety of all New York housing and protect families."
A package of proposed bills for fire safety oversight and enforcement is also expected to pass. This package includes frequent building code updates, increased violation fines and increased fire hydrant tests.
Firefighters who spoke with News 12 like the bill. "There's a lot of fires every year that result from home heating issues, space heaters in particular, and there's a couple hundred deaths a year, so anything we can do to cut down on that is important," says Pleasantville Fire Chief Madison Martineau.
These all passed the state Senate and are in the state Assembly. They will then go to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office so she can sign into law.