New York City to Crack Down on Illegally Divided Apartments

Mayor Bloomberg, Council Speaker Quinn unveil reforms to overhaul illegal apartment ‘firetraps’

BY Greg B. Smith

City officials were out in force to discuss an overhaul in how the city combats "firetrap" apartments.

Marc Hermann for News

City officials were out in force to discuss an overhaul in how the city combats “firetrap” apartments.

Less than six weeks after five people died in firetraps, the city announced Tuesday it will overhaul its failed effort to combat the proliferation of illegal apartments.

The new approach involves combining data that had been kept by separate city agencies – and sending uniformed firefighters to door knock suspected firetraps.

“The results of using the metrics and uniformed firefighters are very encouraging,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in announcing the reforms with Mayor Bloomberg at City Hall.

The Daily News has uncovered a lack of coordination between city agencies that was hurting efforts to close down dangerous apartments at a time when their numbers appear to be growing.

The News found the Fire Department tracks illegal apartments only at the stationhouse level – not at FDNY headquarters.


Also, The News found that increasingly, buildings inspectors who were unable to gain access to suspected firetraps were closing cases without taking action.

In response to the fire deaths, a task force chaired by Bloomberg’s chief policy adviser, John Feinblatt, moved to resolve some of these specific issues.

“You’re right, [the information] was dispersed, and Feinblatt’s idea was to pull it together,” Bloomberg admitted.

“The lack of coordination among city agencies represents a serious weakness in the city’s ability to respond effectively to combat this problem,” said Quinn, a Manhattan Democrat.

At a Council hearing after the announcement, Councilman Oliver Koppell (D-Bronx) credited The News with documenting that city’s “totally unacceptable” approach to trying to close down the firetraps.

Under the new reforms, uniformed firefighters will accompany inspectors to buildings deemed likely to contain illegal apartments.

Link to the Full Article HERE

Filed Under: Pre-PlanningRisk Management


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