NYPD issues directive after officer's death in Coney Island fire

Kemberly Richardson reports on new NYPD fire safety guidelines citing policeman Dennis Guerra's death from a Coney Island fire. (WABC)
April 10, 2014 3:36:01 PM PDT
Following the death of Officer Dennis Guerra, the NYPD has issued a directive on Thursday to all officers, formally advising them of how to respond to fires.

The directive comes after Sunday's deadly high-rise fire in Coney Island. It says officers should only take an elevator at a fire location after inspecting the elevator for smoke, and if no smoke is detected, the officers should stop every fifth floor and repeat the inspection. They must also exit the elevator at minimum of two floors below where the fire is reported.

"The protocols we just came out with are guidelines. Officers will instinctively do what they have to do, as these two officers did," said William Bratton, the New York City Police Departement commissioner.

Guerra, 38, died Wednesday morning from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning after he and partner Officer Rosa Rodriguez took the elevator to the fire floor and were overcome by the fumes.

Retired New York City Firefighters Jim Riches said it is best to walk up to the fire location. "If it's seventh floor or below, we walk up. We don't trust the elevators. They're electrical, you have fires, things can go wrong."

Rodriguez, 36, remains in critical condition at Weill Cornell Medical Center, but doctors say the mother of four is showing signs of improvement.

Flags were lowered across the city in memory of the fallen officer.

Sixteen-year-old Marcell Dockery is facing arson, assault and reckless endangerment charges after police say he lit a mattress on fire in the hallway because he was bored.

CLICK HERE to see photos from the scene.

With Guerra's death, Brooklyn prosecutors are expected to go to a grand jury and seek upgraded charges.

The New York City Housing Authority is taking steps to evict Dockery's family from the building, a step some neighbors feel is too harsh.

"She's sad, she's really hurting," said Wanda Feliciano, of the Tenant Association. "She just can't believe this happened. Housing should not evict her. This is not her fault."

Guerra, a father of four and eight-year veteran of the NYPD, will be laid to rest Monday morning at St. Rose of Lima Church in Rockaway Beach.

Dockery is due in court Friday.