Children died because inspector who could have identified fire hazards was reassigned to a restaurant to enforce covid-control rules.
In late December, New York City experienced its deadliest fire in 30 years when a malfunctioning space heater caused a blaze that filled a high-rise Bronx apartment building with thick smoke and killed 17 people.
An investigation into the event shows that the apartment complex was scheduled to be examined by a New York City Fire Inspector several months beforehand. However, the critical check that could have identified fire hazards was canceled.
Why? The inspector was reassigned to conduct COVID restaurant inspections.
The troubling account came from 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.
“That building was scheduled to be inspected, but because they were sent to a task force, that building was not inspected,” he testified.
“It’s terrible,” he told the Daily News after his testimony. “I’m not blaming Eric Adams. I’m blaming the previous administration for not thinking it through.”
Other New York City fire department officials recounted being diverted from other similar and crucial safety inspections to pursue “zero Covid.”
During testimony to the Council on Wednesday, Michael Reardon, the FDNY’s deputy chief inspector, noted 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 were distributing masks. 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,” he testified.
Councilwoman Joann Ariola, who heads the Council’s fire and emergency management committee, called former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policy of diverting fire inspectors to COVID-related matters “unconscionable” and said she’d refer the matter to the Department of Investigation and the Council’s oversight committee.
“We’re looking forward to making sure these wrongs are righted,” she said. “It should be investigated.”
NYC Mayor Eric Adams has since rolled back the restaurant policing by the FDNY inspectors.
We are now at the 2-year mark of “2-weeks to flatten the curve”. I assert that the response to the coronavirus has likely killed more people than would have occurred without the lockdowns, social distancing, and forced vaccination programs.
Whatever that increased death toll is, the 17 people who died in that fire (many children) should be included in the number. Children may have been burned to death because the inspector who could have identified significant fire hazards was somewhere else, enforcing covid-control rules that ultimately proved ineffective.DONATE
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