A special investigation conducted on the deadly fire at a Bronx building that killed 17 people and left dozens injured last January 9 have shown that the incident could have been avoided if only the fire inspection on the building was conducted as scheduled.
Oren Barzilay, president of the union that represents paramedics and fire inspectors who testified Wednesday at a hearing held by the City Council’s Fire and Emergency Management Committee revealed that the scheduled inspection of the building did not proceed as planned since the assigned inspector was given a different task which is to conduct COVID restaurant inspections.
“That building was scheduled to be inspected, but because they were sent to a task force, that building was not inspected,” Barzilay said.
The initial investigation on the deadly fire at Twin Parks North West in the Bronx has shown that the fire was caused by a faulty space heater that burst into flames and made worse by malfunctioning doors that were designed to close on their own.
The investigator said because the doors failed to shut, the toxic smoke spread quickly through the 19-story building.
The fire incident is considered the deadliest in the Big Apple since the Happy Land nightclub fire killed 87 people in 1990.
Meanwhile, on the same investigation, Michael Reardon, the FDNY’s deputy chief inspector, revealed on Wednesday that during the course of that initiative about 90 fire inspectors were diverted from their normal responsibilities to perform COVID-related duties, like inspecting restaurants to make sure they checked vaccination cards and distributing masks.
Reardon said overall, there are 450 fire inspectors citywide.
“They were downsized to the point that some units were unable to do all the inspections they needed to do,” Reardon testified.