Officials introduce legislation to require heat sensors in federally funded buildings following deadly fire
State and local leaders are pushing for new federal legislation that would require heat sensors to be installed in certain building complexes.
The call for action comes following a deadly high-rise fire that claimed the lives of 17 Bronx residents last week.
“The government’s job is to protect people and work for people. Clearly, this is an example of absolute failure,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Gillibrand, Rep. Ritchie Torres and several other local leaders visited the Twin Parks Northwest apartment building on Monday afternoon to ask a question that has been frequently asked.
“Why were tenants using fire heaters in the first place?” asked Torres.
Torres says that the root cause is systemic housing issues. This is why he is proposing legislation requiring heat sensors in all federally-funded buildings.
“Heat sensors would enable the real-time recording of heat levels in every apartment,” he said.
Torres says the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development did a heat sensor pilot study from July 2020 to July 2021 in 56 buildings. He said this resulted in a 56% decline in heat complaints.
"Among those 26 buildings, HPD saw a 56% decline in heat complaints. 66% of those buildings had no heat violations,” Torres said.
Torres will carry the bill through the House of Representatives, while Gillibrand will take it to the Senate. The senator says she is also planning to focus on sprinklers in buildings.
"We also learned from the firefighters that an old building like this is grandfathered in and doesn't require sprinklers. That's unacceptable,” she said.
Members of the Gambian Youth Organization were also in attendance. They say they are thankful for the elected officials working on solutions. But they also continue to express the need for accountability, especially when it comes to the landlord of the Twin Parks building.
“This is a tragedy that did not need to happen. The conditions that led to the fire were created by corporate greed and a disregard for the safety and dignity of the tenants of this building” said Gambian Youth president Salim Drammeh.
Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson says she is looking to introduce similar fire safety legislation at a local level.