Sophie Echternach | Writer
January 14, 2022
This past Sunday, the Bronx, New York, experienced a tragedy like no other. An apartment building erupted into flames due to a malfunctioning space heater, killing 17 people, eight being children. Could these victims have been saved if there were more fire precautions in place?
California experiences rampant wildfires every year from August to October. Due to the regularity of flames, many fire safety precautions have been put into place including fireproof homes, evacuation routes, and fire-safe cities and neighborhoods. While the majority of California’s fires are caused by dry brush and wind, some of the worst in history have been the result of arson or even freak accidents such as what happened in the Bronx.
“With all of the awful things happening the last two years, it makes me sad to hear of another tragedy where so many people died,” junior Tessa Campbell said. “I know it is pretty common for people on the Pacific Coast to be educated on fire safety, however I think the government needs to initiate nationwide safety precautions because fires don’t just start from dry brush, anything can start that first spark leading to disaster and tragedy wherever it spreads.”
According to the New York Times, “Residents who had heard the fire alarms… did not immediately react because they had grown accustomed to frequent alarms in the building.” Had that apartment building been up to date with its alarm system, the residents could have been given those crucial extra couple of minutes to escape.
Additionally, the building was built in 1972, meaning that because it is an older building, there were no fire escapes. The residents of the building were forced to use the stairwells to attempt their escapes, however, the building quickly filled with smoke, making it impossible to breathe or see.
One woman recalled having to jump out of a third-floor window, hoping for the best. Fortunately, she survived and made a safe landing. Now, people are demanding why fire safety wasn’t enforced in older buildings in order to avoid sudden disaster.
“It is tragic that this horrible event happened when it could have been so avoidable had there been more safety precautions taken,” junior Kayla Shanafelt said. “I think it is important for the New York government to consider updating all of the older buildings in order to prevent something like this from ever happening again. Maybe by adding fire escapes or even making sure all people in larger buildings are aware of a fire escape plan.”
New York may be no California with its fires, yet that does not excuse the lack of preparation for fire, especially in a highly-populated area with many tall, hard to escape buildings. With 17 deaths, 44 injuries, and many hospitalizations, the entire country is hoping for increased fire safety, awareness, and precautions put into place in not only New York City buildings but places everywhere.
No matter the climate, the neighborhood, or the region, no one is truly safe from the vengeance of fire and unfortunately, it takes tragic incidents such as the Bronx fire for awareness to be spread and fire safety to be taken seriously.