FDNY Commissioner Urges Residents to Close their Doors in Event of Fire after Deadly Bronx Blaze

NY Daily News - December 30, 2017

by JESSICA SCHLADEBECK

Closing the door could end up being a life-saving move in the event of a fire.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro offered that very advice during a press conference Friday morning, where he also discussed the cause of the deadly Bronx apartment blaze that left 12 dead.

A child had been fiddling with the stove in his kitchen at the five-story home near the Bronx Zoo, he told reporters. When the boy’s mother became aware of the flames, she and her children exited the apartment without closing the door behind them.

“This fire quickly spread up the stairs. Fire travels up, the stairway acted like a chimney,” Nigro said.

“It took the fire so quickly up the stairs that people had very little time to react, they couldn’t get back down the stairs. Those that tried, a few of them perished.”

A closed door limits the fire’s oxygen supply, which ultimately slows the spread of flames — and in some instances, stops them completely.

The move also reduces “toxic smoke levels, improves oxygen levels and decreases temperatures dramatically” should a fire occur, according to the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute.

Closing the doors also affords those trapped inside more time to wait for rescue from first responders.

Firefighters arrived at the apartment on Prospect Ave. in just under 3 minutes, but because doors were left opened, the incident still resulted in “unprecedented loss,” Nigro said.

The blaze spread through the residence in a matter of minutes and claimed the lives of parents and their children, with a victim as young as one year old.

It’s the deadliest fire tragedy to hit the city in more than 25 years, officials said.

“Close the door. Close the door. Close the door,” Nigro emphasized. “If unfortunately you do have a fire in your apartment, you must close the door when you exit because the results if you don’t are what happened here last night.”