In a rare statement following the Twin Parks North West tower fire that killed 17 residents and displaced 140 families on Jan. 9, owners told the Bronx Times that entry doors, fire alarms and Building hot water systems were working. correctly at the time of the fire.

The tenants claimed ⁠—and recently testified in congressional hearings last month regarding federal regulations for fire safety in federally subsidized housing complexes⁠—that the fire alarms in the building were so faulty that If they suffered from false alarms on a regular basis, and had this and other problems been solved sooner, many more residents could have escaped the hell of their lives.

“The building’s entrance doors, fire alarms and hot water systems were working properly at the time of the fire. The heating system was also fully operational before the fire. There are computerized heat sensors installed throughout the building that continuously read the temperature and provide feedback to the heating system,” Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC told The Bronx Times in a statement.

The Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC consortium, which includes Belveron Partners, the LIHC Investment Group and The Camber Property Group, is charged in four lawsuits, including a $3 billion class action lawsuit. A lawsuit, led by national civil rights attorney Ben Crump, alleges the negligence of building owners in not ensuring the building complied with health and safety codes led to the disastrous results on January 9 .

Those affected by the fire continue to undergo relocation efforts on a monthly basis, according to city officials. Landlords told the Bronx Times that 67 displaced tenants have signed leases with La Central, an affordable housing center in the South Bronx that the city offers as a relocation destination.

At the time of the Twin Parks fire, the 52-year-old building had been reported with 18 open violations and 174 total violations since new ownership consortium Bronx Park Phase III Preservation LLC took over in 2020, filings with the city’s department of housing preservation and development (HPD) fair.

In the year before the fire, residents of Twin Parks filed more than 30 complaints detailing unsafe and poor living conditions, including 311 filings relating to ventilation and fire-retardant materials, other ‘immediately dangerous’ claims of tenants who stay open describe lead paint in their bathrooms and hallways, infestations of cockroaches in the kitchen walls and mice crawling throughout their apartment. And complaints dated December 2020, all of which were marked as closed, describe apartments that had no heating.

The landowners of Twin Parks North West are facing four separate lawsuits over the January 9 fire that killed 17 people. Photo Adrian Childress

One unit, 6K, had 10 different complaints in the last month alone, including “no heating”, cockroaches throughout the apartment, front door that doesn’t close automatically, broken radiator in the living room, a damaged pipe in the bathroom, and no heat. Most of these deposits were marked as resolved prior to the fire.

Bronx politician Ritchie Torres said in a conversation with The Bronx Times last month that there was no automatic coordination between state and city agencies, and noted that the New York City’s heat law only required that an apartment be kept at 62 degrees at night, regardless of the temperature outside. Newly appointed HPD Commissioner Alfredo Carrion, the former Bronx Borough President, also acknowledged this as a problem.

During the day the temperature is required by law to be below 55 degrees outside in order for the heat to be regulated in the apartments, which becomes a problem if the temperature drops later. Carrion said most of the 620,000 violations HPD reported in 2021 were heat-related, and the department received an additional 500,000 complaints in the same year.

On the day of the fire, the owners told The Times that the average apartment temperature was 71.2 degrees.

Self-closing doors, working fire alarms, well-lit pathways and exit signs are also required by state law. The 120-unit brick building had no fire exits and outdated stairways, which fire safety experts say made it difficult for residents to escape the thick smoke that was quickly shrouding their hallways and hallways. houses largely partly by a door that did not close when it should have.

The city’s fire inspection process was also reformed following the fire.

Displaced tenants are in shock after experiencing one of the city’s worst fires since the 1990s. Photo Lloyd Mitchell

Firefighters tasked with inspecting the Fordham Heights building were diverted to a COVID task force in 2021 to ensure restaurants followed pandemic guidelines, Local 2507 President Oren Barzilay revealed during a hearing before the New York City Council Committee on Fire and Emergency Management in March. Barzilay believes inspectors reportedly flagged the faulty doors – which caused the fire to spread rapidly throughout the complex, resulting in the deaths of eight children and nine adults from smoke inhalation – for repairs.

The FDNY currently has 300 fire protection inspectors, who are responsible for examining smoke detectors, emergency exits, life safety kits and any potential sources of fire hazards.

According to FDNY officials, 200,000 smoke detectors were distributed or installed between 2013 and 2021, and 2,100 fire safety presentations were given last year — 610 in the Bronx, which accounts for 28% of all presentations .

In March, Mayor Eric Adams signed Executive Order 12, which requires an extensive fire safety education campaign and tougher penalties for homeowners who fail to comply with city regulations. Since the fire, the FDNY has scheduled 900 presentations in conjunction with the NYPD, American Red Cross and the city’s Department of Education.

Contact Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes