Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

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James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry.James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
January 9, 2022


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Fire safety

Fire in New York apartments leaves 17 dead

At 11AM local time on Sunday 9th January, a fire took hold in a New York apartment building, leaving 17 people dead and over 30 more being sent to hospital.

Tweet from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY)

Around 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze, which broke out on the second or third floor in an apartment building in the Bronx. At least 17 people have died, including nine children. A total of 63 people suffered injuries, including 32 being taken to hospital, a number of whom remain in critical condition.

Victims were reportedly found on “every floor” of the 19-storey building in stairwells, as spoke spread throughout the block according to Fire department Commissioner Daniel Nigro. Many of those affected were said to be suffering from severe smoke inhalation.

The origin of the fire was found to have started “in a malfunctioning electric space heater”, while the door to the flat and a door to the stairwell were left open, which was said to be the main cause of the rapid spread of smoke throughout the building. Both doors were designed to be self-closing, but it is presumed they malfunctioned, as there was no evidence of obstruction. Investigators tested the self closing mechanisms on all doors in the building on Sunday and, though most worked, the door to the apartment where the fire started did not, alongside a couple of others.

According to the New York Post, residents commented that false fire alarms were a regular occurrence in the building, which may have resulted in people not exiting the building earlier, despite the alarms being operable.

The incident is said to be New York City’s deadliest blaze in three decades. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that portable electric heaters are involved in about 1,100 fires per year.

The UK’s Fire Brigades Union has since written to US counterparts to offer to work together on building safety campaigning in light of the Bronx apartment fire and the Grenfell Tower disaster. Early reports have pointed to similarities between the Bronx disaster and Grenfell, with failing door closers, lift problems, a lack of sprinklers, and an ignorance of resident voices in the years up to the incidents all present for both fires.

The Grenfell United group representing survivors and bereaved said they were “devastated” to hear of the fire and said its thoughts and prayers were with the families, and a victim of the fire told ITV that “you had Grenfell, this is our Grenfell”.

The incident follows after a house fire in Philadelphia left 13 people – seven of which were children – dead. According to reports, smoke alarms failed to go off in the house, owned by the city’s public housing authority.



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