US officials announce new strategy to fight fires inspired by deadly Bronx blaze

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Tuesday, January 10, 2023
US officials announce new strategy inspired by deadly Bronx fire
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US Fire Administrator Lori Moore-Merrell traveled to the Bronx to honor the 17 lives lost in last year's tragedy and announced the strategy. Crystal Cranmore has the details.

TREMONT, Bronx (WABC) -- A new strategy unveiled Tuesday aims to use previous fire investigations to prevent similar fire tragedies from happening again.

U.S. Fire Administrator Lori Moore-Merrell traveled to New York City to honor the 17 lives lost in last year's tragedy at the Twin Parks building.

It was the first stop in a tour of some of the deadliest infernos.

She said the tragedy in the Bronx highlights an unfortunate truth about fires.

"It disproportionately affects our most vulnerable population," Moore-Merrell said.

The new national strategy to quell America's fire problem includes investing in a national program to address the firefighter shortage and improve diversity. The plan also involves cracking down on code enforcement.

"When a fire occurs, we're going to look at those fire safety features and often where the building itself may have failed long before firefighters arrived," Moore-Merrell said. "We'll take that knowledge going forward and be able apply it to other like buildings, not only just in New York but in other cities as well."

The plan will help fire departments across the country identify buildings with similar problems and issue safety recommendations.

The national strategy comes as the Fire Administration flexes new investigative powers thanks to new legislation sponsored by Rep. Ritchie Torres in response to the Twin Parks fire.

While local fire officials will still look into the cause and origin, the Fire Administration will look at where buildings failed before firefighters arrived.

Torres says for the first time it allows the United States Fire Administration to assist local firefighter investigators after a major fire.

Officials say the vast majority of public housing in the U.S. does not have sprinklers, like Twin Parks, because they were built before a 1992 requirement.

"We hear a lot about the costs of implementing these fire safety procedures, we know that's a myth," Moore-Merrell said.

As the city continues to heal from the loss one year ago, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation donated $50,000 to the FDNY to help further fire safety education especially in immigrant communities.

"When we do lose someone we are really dedicated to keeping their memory alive through education efforts," FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh said.

RELATED | Vigils, street co-naming mark 1 year since deadly Bronx apartment fire

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