Bronx deadly blaze: Rep. Ritchie Torres pledges federal assistance

Bronx

The site of Sunday’s devastating fire, a 19-story Bronx high-rise, was home to a large community of immigrants from Gambia in West Africa.

These families now have to figure out how to piece their lives back together following the tragedy, and Gov. Kathy Hochul said she will make sure that the victims get the help they need.

Sen. Charles Schumer and Congressman Ritchie Torress have also pledged to do whatever they can to get federal assistance for the fire victims.

The congressman discussed more on what the federal aid will look like. 

Torres said he hopes in the short term, the majority of residents can return to their homes.

According to the congressman, the federal government has jurisdiction and could require, as a condition of receiving federal funding, that all housing developments must comply with 21st century standards of fire safety.

This includes having sprinkler systems in buildings, having functioning smoke alarm and fire alarm systems, self-losing doors and safety knobs.

“There are many housing developments in the Bronx, and elsewhere in the city, that lack what I would consider modern standards of fire safety,” Torres said. “Those buildings put tenants at risk.”

Despite the fact it was a state-run building, all city housing is subject to the city’s fire codes.

There has been confusion surrounding the blaze, and Torres said to make everything more clear, he said the FDNY and housing department should hold both landlord and tenants responsible for fires.

Landlords should make sure buildings are up to codes and standards, but tenants should also have the responsibility of keeping doors closed if fires break out.

Torres also recommends avoiding space heaters altogether.

When asked what can be done to help affected tenants immediately, Torres said the most immediate aid comes from the mayor’s fund.

He also asked New Yorkers who are able to donate to do so.

The congressman also advised residents they will be helped, no matter their immigration status, and they will not be at risk for deportation.

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