TREMONT, Bronx (WABC) -- On the heels of horrific Bronx fire that killed 17 people, including eight children, Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Ritchie Torres on Tuesday unveiled a "4-point federal fire safety package" that includes addressing sprinklers, self-closing doors, heaters and federal investigation powers.
Schumer and Torres said they intend to advance and pass the plan through both chambers of Congress, and that more can -- and must be done to make vulnerable buildings across city, state and nation safer for all.
Each priority covered in the bill is critical to making sure residents are protected, the said, adding that while their offices work with impacted families, systemic reforms are needed to a variety of dwellings stuck in the past, or ones that simply lack a culture of safety made worse by neglect.
Lawmakers backing the plan say the measure is needed in order to address fire safety issues that have been heightened due to neglect.
Schumer and Torres said the federal government can, and should, lead the way here in preventing these tragedies and doing the hard work of changing the law.
In the fire's wake, Torres formed the "Bronx Task Force on Fire Safety" that a few weeks ago announced the first legislative and policy recommendations to address the conditions that led to the deadly fire at Twin Parks North West.
Torres said he would focus the first policies on space heaters and self closing doors, including introducing legislation to mandate shutoff feathers on space heaters and requiring self-closing apartment doors in all housing developments that receive federal funding.
Torres is also examining local compliance with the recently passed city law mandating self-closing doors in residential buildings.
"Something as simple as a self-closing door can prevent mass causalities in a fire," Torres said. "And so we are going to propose legislation that would require every federally funded housing development, such as Twin Parks North West, to have self-closing doors. And we will require that landlords periodically inspect those self-closing doors and certify under oath, under the penalty of perjury that the self-closing doors are in fact closing properly."
He also says heat sensors could be installed in housing developments to ensure that temperatures are not so cold that residents are forced to use space heaters. Those and other proposals will "reflect the lessons learned" from the fire.
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