AT LEAST 22 CIVILIANS, FIREFIGHER HURT IN LARGE SCALE FIRE

WTVA, NY: A fire that ripped through a four-story mix-use building in the Bronx Tuesday morning has injured at least 22 people …

A fire that ripped through a four-story mix-use building in the Bronx Tuesday morning has injured at least 22 people and a firefighter, as crews battled freezing temperatures in their fight against the flames, according to the FDNY.

About 200 firefighters responded to the fire, which began about 5:30 a.m. on the first floor of 1547 Commonwealth Ave., near East Tremont Avenue, officials said. As of 11:30 a.m., firefighters continued to battle the blaze.

The fire is believed to have started on the building’s first floor, which houses a furniture store. There are apartments located on the floors above.

Google Maps Imagery

At least 22 civilians and a firefighter were hurt. All of their injuries are non-life threatening, FDNY said.

Fire officials advised residents near the fire to close their windows because of smoke and warned drivers to expect traffic delays in the area.

Firefighters have been pulled from the building and are fighting the blaze from outside, FDNY said. Large icicles could be seen forming on the building’s fire escapes, as water used by the firefighters began to freeze amid a snap of brutally cold temperatures.

A resident said she tried to flee via the fire escape, but a gate was blocking the window. Her son and daughter were able to get through, but it was not until firefighters broke the gate that she and her husband could escape.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

This blaze comes days another Bronx fire killed 12 people in the one of the deadliest fires in the city in more than a quarter century. The Dec. 28 fire was started by a small child playing with a stove on the first floor, according to Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

The child’s mother heard him screaming and escaped the unit, but, according to Nigro, she left the apartment door open.

Source: ABC WTVA & FOX WLOV, New York.
Posted: Jan. 3, 2018 1:42 PM
Updated: Jan. 3, 2018 8:33 PM

Man fatally falls from fire escape after fight with girlfriend

A man who threatened his girlfriend with a knife early Sunday fell to his death after losing his footing on the fire escape as he tried to climb back into their Bronx apartment, police said.

Pedro Polanco, 27, and his 36-year-old girlfriend had friends at their flat on 182nd St. near Mapes Ave. in Belmont when they began fighting around 3:30 a.m. He repeatedly pushed her and flashed an intimidating blade, according to cops.

After she demanded he leave the fifth-floor apartment, where they live with their two young children, he climbed from the roof onto the fire escape — a familiar re-entry route he’d traveled before, according to officials.

But this time he lost his footing and accidentally fell, police said.

Medics discovered Polanco conscious and alert, but with severe trauma to his lower body, police said. They rushed him to St. Barnabas Hospital, where he died an hour later.

Polanco’s girlfriend was not seriously hurt. Cops continued to investigate the incident on Sunday, but said they do not suspect foul play.

Polanco’s mom, Francisca Garcia, said his girlfriend called her after an ambulance took him away.

“She said, ‘Please forgive me,’ ” Garcia said as she sobbed and dried her eyes with a wash cloth.

The dead man’s father, Pedro Polanco Jesus, said he’s still not sure if his son jumped or fell.

“We don’t know,” he said. “The police are still investigating.”

In addition to his kids in the Bronx, a boy, 4, and a girl, 2, Polanco has two children in his native Dominican Republic, neighbors said.

Polanco’s parents live in a basement apartment in the same building.

Neighbors described Polanco as quiet and friendly.

“I saw him yesterday around 4 or 5 o’clock. He was standing right here,” said neighbor Jose Fernandez, 57.

“He didn’t talk much, he was quiet. I said ‘What’s wrong with you, you don’t talk? Christmas is coming, you better be happy”.

Source: NY Daily News – Man fatally falls from fire escape after fight with girlfriend

Harvard Lampoon Building presented Historic Preservation Award

Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, chairman of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, recently announced the selection of the Harvard Lampoon Building in Cambridge to receive a 2017 Massachusetts Historical Commission Historic Preservation Award.

“The Massachusetts Historical Commission is proud to recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of this year’s awardees,” Galvin said. “The projects the commission is recognizing this year are particularly diverse and represent the many creative ways that significant historic resources are being preserved across the Commonwealth. The restoration of the Harvard Lampoon Building demonstrates an exceptional attention to detail.”

Located just south of Harvard Square in Cambridge, the Harvard Lampoon occupies a building that was one of the last major works of Boston city architect, Edmund Wheelwright. Wheelwright, a Harvard alumnus and a founder of the Harvard Lampoon magazine, one of the nation’s first college humor magazines, wanted the building to embody the comical nature of the publication. Completed in 1909, the Harvard Lampoon Building exhibits a synthesis of the formal Gothic and early Renaissance styles, with Flemish architectural influences, and is marked by a tower at its main entrance.

A century after its completion, the Lampoon Building still retained much of its original character and motifs, but was in need of functional, structural and cosmetic work. The most significant challenge was the need for a secondary means of egress from the second floor to meet modern code requirements. The only feasible option was to add a new exterior door and fire escape on the Plympton Street façade, yet the prominence of this façade meant that any intervention needed to be thoroughly thought out and precisely executed in order to maintain the building’s integrity. To that end, the design for the secondary egress included a new door with a limestone surround and Tudor hood molding, which were carefully integrated into the existing stringcourse. The new fire escape is shrouded with a decorative wrought-iron railing that runs the full width of the Plympton Street façade. Designed after a careful study of early 20th century metalwork in Boston and Cambridge, the railing features metal newels that complement the historic motifs of the building, including “HL” monograms, grotesques with jester hats and three book-shaped cartouches that together spell out the Lampoon’s original motto, “Vanitas.”

Along with the insertion of the new means of egress, significant structural problems were addressed on the Plympton Street façade. A steel beam had rusted over the ground-floor entry and windows, resulting in severe cracking of the surrounding masonry. Once the beam was cleaned, reinforced and waterproofed, the damaged area of limestone was patched and replaced as needed. Restoration of the masonry and windows at the building’s east end was also undertaken. All exterior masonry was cleaned, and inappropriate replacement mortar from previous repairs was replaced with mortar matching the original in color and texture. Similarly, on the inside, the replacement black mortar was removed and, after cleaning off dirt and soot, it was possible to match the original mortar’s lighter color and texture. Leaded glass windows, whose deterioration had been accelerated due to their covering by unvented storm panels, were cleaned and repainted once those panels were removed.

This is the 39th year of MHC’s Preservation Awards program. Projects are considered annually for awards in the categories of Rehabilitation and Restoration, Adaptive Reuse, Education and Outreach, Archaeology, Stewardship and Landscape Preservation. Individuals are considered in the categories of Individual Lifetime Achievement and Local Preservationist. Galvin serves as the chair of the 17-member Massachusetts Historical Commission.

Source: Wicked Local – Cambridge

Bryan offering grant money for safety improvements to downtown buildings

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) The City of Bryan is taking a new approach to making downtown businesses and residences safer. They’re offering grant money to bring older buildings up to new fire code standards.

Some historic buildings in Downtown Bryan have been lost or damaged to fire in recent years. The Court’s Saddlery building was destroyed in January 2011. The Edge’s building, which is home to the Halo nightclub, was significantly damaged in 2015. Even a small fire at RX Pizza back in March had fire crews scrambling to make sure flames didn’t spread.

The city is trying to get the word out about a grant for downtown busineses on Main Street and Bryan Avenue to bring fire safety improvements.

“The Life Safety Grant is really there to help renovate some of the older buildings in Downtown Bryan. It’s very difficult to add a fire protection system or alarm system or exits or windows or doors to some of these old structures without some financial assistance,” said Marc McFeron, the Bryan Fire Marshal.

The Queen Theatre, currently under massive renovation, is the city’s latest grant recipient.
Some historic buildings in Downtown Bryan have been lost or damaged to fire in recent years. The Court’s Saddlery building was destroyed in January 2011. The Edge’s building, which is home to the Halo nightclub, was significantly damaged in 2015. Even a small fire at RX Pizza back in March had fire crews scrambling to make sure flames didn’t spread.

The city is trying to get the word out about a grant for downtown busineses on Main Street and Bryan Avenue to bring fire safety improvements.

“The Life Safety Grant is really there to help renovate some of the older buildings in Downtown Bryan. It’s very difficult to add a fire protection system or alarm system or exits or windows or doors to some of these old structures without some financial assistance,” said Marc McFeron, the Bryan Fire Marshal.

The Queen Theatre, currently under massive renovation, is the city’s latest grant recipient.

Some historic buildings in Downtown Bryan have been lost or damaged to fire in recent years. The Court’s Saddlery building was destroyed in January 2011. The Edge’s building, which is home to the Halo nightclub, was significantly damaged in 2015. Even a small fire at RX Pizza back in March had fire crews scrambling to make sure flames didn’t spread.

The city is trying to get the word out about a grant for downtown busineses on Main Street and Bryan Avenue to bring fire safety improvements.

“The Life Safety Grant is really there to help renovate some of the older buildings in Downtown Bryan. It’s very difficult to add a fire protection system or alarm system or exits or windows or doors to some of these old structures without some financial assistance,” said Marc McFeron, the Bryan Fire Marshal.

The Queen Theatre, currently under massive renovation, is the city’s latest grant recipient.

Other locations that have received grant assistance include office and loft space at 212 North Bryan Avenue, and The Halo Nightclub in the Edges Building. The Fire Marshal tells us RX Pizza was also given assistance on fire suppression for their ventilation hoods.

Businesses or property owners interested in the grant can call Stephanie Doland at (979) 209-5073.

Source: Clay Falls with KBTX | Posted: Wed 5:41 PM, Dec 13, 2017 | Updated: Wed 11:20 PM, Dec 13, 2017

‘The only fire escape was the window,’ says woman rescued from Furby apartment blaze

Flames shoot through the roof of an apartment building on Furby Street Tuesday. (Submitted by Matt Gillies)

A Winnipeg mom huddled with her boys in a back bedroom of their Furby Street apartment Monday night, convinced they would never make it out.

Nancy McIvor says she’s glad to be alive after the blaze destroyed their building at 489 Furby St.

Her nephew Dylan, 23, and her sons Lester, 19, and Dwight, 20, huddled in Dwight’s bedroom after the fire broke out at 11 p.m. Monday, staring at the window, wondering if they might have to jump.

“We were that desperate to save our lives,” McIvor said Tuesday night. “We thought we were gonna die.”

McIvor said when her son woke her up the apartment was already thick with smoke.

“We couldn’t even see each other, that’s how bad the smoke was. We were just feeling each other … to go to the back room,” she said.

Their third-floor suite was above the second-floor apartment where the fire broke out, and they couldn’t reach the closest door as a result. The hallways were too full of smoke for them to attempt to navigate to either staircase.

Dwight’s room had the least smoke, so they all huddled there.

“I felt like, that’s the end of us. Because we were trapped. There was no way out,” she said.

“We were just running around with our heads cut off,” she said. “There was no fire escape, anywhere. The only fire escape was the window, to jump out the window.

“At that moment, it was life and death,” she said. “There was four lives to be saved — five lives, my Lucky too,” she said, referring to her cat.

he McIvors’ cat, Lucky, hasn’t been seen since the fire. (Submitted by Lester McIvor)

“We were just screaming out the window, ‘Help! Help!'”

Firefighters called back, asked what suite they were in and found them in Dwight’s room.

“They came and got us, like a chain,” McIvor said.

They were four of six people rescued from the third storey of the building. Six others trapped inside made it out on their own.

They were all treated for smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide toxicity. The city said Tuesday that three people were sent to hospital — one in unstable condition, two stable.

Lucky the cat is still missing. McIvor was told the building is likely to be condemned and she won’t be allowed inside to look for the cat.

They also won’t be able to salvage any of their belongings — McIvor’s guitar, her pictures of her mom and dad, “my values, that I call treasures — things you can’t replace,” she said.

Then there’s their winter gear — clothes other than the ones on their backs.

“We have nothing — no clothes, nothing to change into, we still smell like fire,” McIvor said Tuesday night.

“Starting all over again, it’s hard. You’ve got to buy pepper, salt.… We need underwear, socks — we have nothing. Everything’s gone to flames.”

They four of them are crammed into her sister’s one-bedroom apartment down the street on Furby. McIvor said she’s been thinking so hard about her next steps it feels like “my head is going to explode.”

She’s not sure how they’ll pay for a new place or what they will need to fill it, and is hoping the Christmas season will encourage people to help them out.

Fire crews set up ladders
When crews first arrived, there were people leaning out of the third-floor windows and heavy flames on the second floor, acting district Chief Ted McDougall told CBC.

​”People were living above that fire suite and they couldn’t get down normally, so fire crews set up ladders and got them out of there,” he said.

After searching through all floors for any more people, firefighters were ordered out. They initially tried to contain the flames to the second-level suite but it spread to the third floor.

Damage to the building is so extensive it will need to be demolished, McDougall said.

The building next door, 485 Furby St., also was evacuated as large amounts of smoke poured into it, along with some water.

On Tuesday, City of Winnipeg spokesperson Michelle Finley said 16 people from both buildings were housed in a hotel Monday night.

A city transit bus was brought in to shelter evacuees. Some had to stay there for several hours.

“Residents who were on the bus for an extended period of time were primarily from the adjacent building at 485 Furby St.,” Finley said in an email.

“At 3 a.m., it became apparent they would not be able to return to their apartments. It was at that time that preparations began to move people who could not stay with family or friends, to a hotel with the assistance of the Red Cross.”

Source: CBC News Posted: Dec 05, 2017 7:55 PM CT Last Updated: Dec 05, 2017 9:31 PM CT

Powerless personal elevator proposed for high-rise building fire escapes


A Korean company has begun marketing a personal elevator-style fire escape system that carries people one or two at a time in stages down the exterior of a building and requires no electricity.

“Neri-Go”, by Asia Fire Protection, is intended for tall buildings and takes up no space inside.

In the event of fire, residents step onto a 60-cm-sq platform and release a brake to be lowered to the next level, where they step onto another.

The controlled descent is driven by the user’s weight, and when the user steps off it rises automatically for the next evacuee.

According to the BuyKorea website, it can accommodate those carrying children as well as the disabled.

Emergency evacuation from tall buildings has become an urgent question around the world following the Grenfell Tower fire in the UK in June, in which 71 people lost their lives after becoming trapped in a building that had only one staircase.

In that case, however, flames shot up the exterior of the building, which would have made Neri-Go unusable on the affected elevations.

Image: The Neri-Go system in actions (Asia Fire Protection)
Source: Global Construction Review | 1 December 2017 | By GCR Staff

Further Reading: New Fire Escape Design in the Making: Evacuation Elevators By Gabe Escapes, National Fire Escape Association™ published November 29, 2017.

‘Worst landlord’ admits demolishing building with family inside

A Harlem landlord has admitted putting a family’s life in danger when he started ripping out walls and fire escapes in an effort to get them to leave their rent stabilized apartment.

Ephraim Vashovsky pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court today to Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree and Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Vashovsky forced a couple and their five children, aged from one-to-12 years, to leave their fifth floor apartment at 21 East 115th Street after he purposefully made conditions there hazardous.

THE FAMILY LIVED IN FREEZING CONDITIONS AS THE BUILDING WAS RIPPED APART AROUND THEM

According to court documents, shortly after he bought the building for $3 million in May 2014, Vashovsky and his associates began a campaign to drive the family out in order to convert the building to luxury apartments.

The landlord shut off electricity, heat, hot water and running water in the building and had workers perform major demolitions in violation of DOB and HPD regulations.

“Vashovsky knowingly created gravely dangerous living conditions, including the risk of an entire building collapse, by removing structural and load-bearing elements,” said court documents, which noted that workers removed critical fire retardant materials, fire escapes, and internal walls and floors – creating the risk of a fire ripping through the building or an inhabitant falling multiple stories.

“This landmark conviction establishes for the first time that New York landlords can and will be held criminally responsible for forcing tenants to live in life-threatening conditions,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

“I hope today’s guilty plea puts landlords on notice: we will not tolerate intimidation and corner-cutting measures that endanger New Yorkers, and we will not hesitate to bring criminal charges when necessary”

Public Advocate Letitia James called Vashovsky “a repeat offender on my Worst Landlords List. I want to thank District Attorney Vance for ensuring this landlord was brought to justice and for protecting New Yorker’s right to a safe and decent home,” said James.

The case comes days after the City Council passed new legislation aimed at protecting tenants from harassment. The Certification of No Harassment (CONH) legislation will require covered building owners seeking to demolish or make significant alterations to their building to prove they have not engaged in harassment before they can get the permits they need from the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB).

If a landlord is found to have harassed tenants, they would not be able to pull those permits for five years – unless they make a substantial portion of their building affordable to low-income families, with no public subsidy.

Housing attorney Kara Rakowski, a partner at Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman called the bill a “clear overreach by the City.”

“Although this is a limited duration pilot program, and while we still have to wait for HPD to issue its Rule, this Bill is extremely disturbing,’ said Rakowski. “This legislation is a clear overreach by the City which could deprive owners of their property rights and due process.

“There is no evidence that this type of legislation will either prevent or deter harassment. In fact, subsequent owners who wish to clean up and renovate or develop covered properties would be forced to designate 20-25 percent of their building to affordable housing in perpetuity or be prevented from doing the work. Moreover, the issue of harassment will be investigated in part by community groups designated by HPD.”

The CONH program has been in place in Hell’s Kitchen since 1974, and a similar requirement applies to all Single-Room Occupancy buildings (SROs) citywide. Tenant advocates have been working to expand the program to neighborhoods with rising rents, where tenants are at particular risk of displacement.

The new policy is the latest in a series of efforts under Mayor Bill de Blasio to protect tenants and increase affordable housing options.

In October, landlord Steve Croman was jailed for tax evasion for refinancing loans by submitting applications with phony rent rolls that showed market rate rents for units held by rent-stabilized tenants.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is also pursing a civil case against the man dubbed “The Bernie Madoff of Landlords,” for harassing tenants of his 140 buildings, trying to get rid of rent-regulated residents to replace them with higher paying market rate tenants.

BY LINDA BARR O’FLANAGAN • REW-ONLINE DECEMBER 6, 2017

Reading man jailed after burglary at apartment house

Alleged Suspect: Terence R. Barber

READING, PA – City police arrested a man after he broke into an apartment house in the same south Reading neighborhood where he lives, investigators said Monday.Terence R. Barber, 29, of the 400 block of South Fifth Street was taken into custody shortly before noon Saturday.

Police said that Barber was arrested after one of the residents of the building he had entered about an hour earlier called to report that he had confronted the suspect.

Barber was committed to Berks County Prison in lieu of $10,000 bail after arraignment before District Judge Victor M. Frederick IV in Reading Central Court.

He is charged with burglary, trespassing and receiving stolen property.
According to police:

A tenant in the building, also in the 400 block of South Fifth, called 9-1-1 after hearing a window breaking on the floor above.

Police arrived and spoke to another resident of the building, who led officers to the kitchen, where there was a broken window and glass on the floor.

The man said that he was asleep but awoke when the door to his room opened. A man later identified as Barber started to enter the room. When he saw the room was occupied, he said, “Someone let me in.” He then closed the door and fled.

The victim got out of bed and went down the stairs to the kitchen. He saw the intruder leaving through the window, going down the fire escape and running north in an alley.

The victim said that he had seen the same man sitting on the steps of the building in the same block. About an hour later, he called police to report he “caught” the suspect.

The victim identified Barber as the person inside the building. A witness said that he found a necklace belonging to the victim with Barber while speaking to him in Barber’s home.

Source: READING EAGLE Tuesday November 28, 2017 12:01 AM

McDonald woman, children, boyfriend forced out of burning duplex

Amber Coleman, in gray sweatshirt, looks Wednesday morning at what remains of the steps and porch of her home.

McDonald woman, children, boyfriend forced out of burning duplex

A man on his way to a gym to work out early Wednesday alerted residents of a McDonald duplex it was on fire after spotting flames shooting out near the rear entrance.

Amber Coleman, her two daughters, ages 3 and 6, and her boyfriend had to climb onto a porch roof of the duplex at 110 North St. to escape the flames. A neighbor put a ladder up to the roof to rescue them. The children were off the roof when McDonald firefighters arrived to rescue the adults.

Bernie Dhanse, identified as the owner of the duplex by McDonald police, was able to escape from his first-floor apartment.

“I woke up and some guy was pounding on the side of the house,” Coleman said. “The stairs in the back were the only entrance to the apartment. All I could see in the back were smoke and flames.

“I just had knee surgery,” she added. “I didn’t have time to grab anything.”

McDonald fire Chief Terry Kerr said because of limited manpower, firefighters focused on getting the residents to safety before battling the flames.

Firefighters arrived at the scene minutes after getting the call just after 6 a.m.

Kerr said a state police fire marshal will investigate.

“I believe it started on the back porch,” Kerr said. “We were able to contain the damage to the porch area and kitchen.”

Firefighters were able to quickly put out the fire, but it was intense enough to melt the siding of a neighboring duplex on Grant Street.

Assisting at the scene were firefighters from Mt. Pleasant Township (Hickory), Midway, Cecil Township (No.3) and Sturgeon. No injuries were reported.

Source: By Kathie Warco, Observer-Reporter.com Nov 29, 2017 Updated Nov 29, 2017

New Fire Escape Design in the Making: Evacuation Elevators

New Fire Escape Design in the Making: Evacuation Elevators


By Gabe Escapes, National Fire Escape Association™ published November 29, 2017.

With the many advancements in the realm of fire protection, it comes to no surprise that the latest fire and life safety technology comes in the form of evacuation elevators for exterior balconies and stairways complete to grade. For many high-rise buildings, it’s the next big thing. Traditional old fire escapes are a thing of the past, as this new design promises to evacuate occupants at faster rates than ever before due to its design.

While still in its early stages of development, the evacuation elevator continues to receive international praise by many concerned stakeholders who in essence hope to one day be able to install them at many of the high-rise buildings they manage across the globe.

Developed by a Korean company called Negiro, the evacuation elevator is designed for use for fires or other natural disasters where rapid escapes are critical for occupant safety and survival. Technically, when stairwells are unavailable or unsuitable for use during an emergency, occupants and patrons will have another shot to save their life as a new option to escape and reach safety has been developed.

So what exactly is the difference between fire escapes and evacuation elevators? While, being uniquely similar, traditional fire escapes are typically constructed with materials that are meant to stay in fixed positions for its entire lifespan as to guarantee structural integrity and stability when used with the exception of cantilevers and accordion ladders. This new design in the other hand, is powered by hydraulics and designed to work under power outages if needed.

Source: Cheddar & Nerigo Company