Yonkers, Spring Valley blazes contribute to New York leading in 2023 fire deaths

“New York again holds the unenviable distinction of having the most fatalities from fires in the nation — with five deaths in Spring Valley and one in Yonkers during the past week raising the state’s 2023 total to 45.

Not even three full months into the year, New York’s death tops Indiana at 29, Pennsylvania and Georgia at 25, and Michigan at 23, according to the Firefighters Association of the State of New York, known as FASNY.

And New York’s 2023 death toll continues a harsh trend of leading the nation in 2017, 2018 and 2019, tallying 834 deaths since 2017, according to FASNY. Following New York is Pennsylvania with 832 deaths, Texas at 777 and California at 743.

“New York can be proud of a good many positive things,” FASNY Secretary John D’Allesandro said Thursday. “Unfortunately, fire deaths aren’t one of them. We have led the nation in fire deaths. This is not a title we want to hold.”

Remains after 118 Lake Street Fire Photo: The Journal News

Yonkers fire: Raw footage

Yonkers fire: One dead, dozens injured, in early morning fire on Bronx River Road

Spring Valley: 5 dead, including 2 minors, in Spring Valley house fire

Fire cause: Electrical issues likely sparked the fatal Spring Valley fire, authorities say. What we know

NYS Firefighters association fighting for reforms

FASNY advocates protecting residents and first responders. The group, formed in 1872, represents an estimated 80,000 volunteer firefighters, including about 1,800 in Rockland. Volunteer firefighters, aside from saving taxpayer dollars, are the main responders to emergencies across the state, outside of paid departments in urban areas and cities. FASNY also represents emergency medical personnel.

FASNY’s lobbying plans include pressing the state Legislature and governor to release funds designated for local governments to hire and train code enforcers; increasing the penalties for fire and safety code violations; and adopting a sales tax holiday for every October to encourage people to buy smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

FASNY officials said they plan to hold a news conference in Albany on Monday to outline their agenda. The lobbying season has started as the Senate and Assembly review Gov. Hochel’s proposed budget for fiscal 2023-2024, which starts April 1.”

The Lake Street fire brought attention to landlord Jacob Jeremias’s property holdings and the need for more inspections. Rockland government inspectors went into several of his properties. Officials said inspectors found five violations and nine counts at 116 Lake St; 11 violations in the front apartment of 120 Lake, amounting to 44 counts; five violations in the rear apartment with nine counts; and six violations and 23 counts at 122 Lake St.

The Rockland Health Department inspectors also have gone to Jeremias’s properties outside of Spring Valley. Theas the Spring Valley building inspectors and prosecutors of violations.

Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-West Nyack, and Sen. Bill Weber, R-Rockland, strongly advocate more stringent codes and penalties for violators. The governor signed his legislation in 2021 on enhancing daily penalties for violators.

Zebrowski said legislative priorities continue to include more stringent oversight of inadequate local building departments by the state’s code division and a funding program in this year’s budget to increase the capacity of local governments to inspect and enforce the code.

Weber said he has sponsored a Senate bill that authorizes Rockland municipalities to add unpaid housing code violation penalties, costs, and fines to the annual tax levy. He said he also supports the Senate bill to redirect funding to local governments for code enforcement.

“We must rapidly address safety issues and support our first responders at every level,” Weber said.

Rockland is approaching the second anniversary on March 22 of Spring Valley Second Lt. Jared Lloyd, 35, being killed in the fire at the Evergreen Court Home for Adults, a few blocks from the Lake Street fatal fire. Adult home resident Oliver Huested, 79, died in the fire. Fire officials are encouraging residents to use a red outdoor light to honor Lloyd.”

Read the complete Journal News story here.