FDNY Conducts Queens Safety Outreach After Borough Sees Most Fatal Fires in 2019

NY 1 - February 07, 2020

by CLODAGH MCGOWAN QUEENS

A two-alarm fire tore through two homes on 121 Avenue in South Jamaica last month. Fire marshals say the flame accidentally started in a car parked in the driveway, because smoking materials were not properly disposed of.

A civilian and two firefighters were treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Officials say the second home that caught fire did have working smoke detectors installed — something that possibly saved lives here.

“Having a working smoke alarm reduces your chance of dying in a fire by 50 percent,” FDNY Captain Michael Kozo told NY1 in an exclusive interview.

Just down the block from the scene of that fire, firefighters are going door-to-door conducting safety outreach, installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors free of charge for any homeowner or tenant who wants one.

“They install it for you, so it’s not just sitting there. I don’t know anyone who would say no,” said Sharon Torres, a South Jamaica resident.

Overall last year, the number of fire deaths citywide dropped 25 percent from 2018. But of the 66 people who died in fires in 2019, 28 of them were in Queens.

Officials say they look at fire trends when planning outreach — including locations, the type of fires and the age of the population. This led to the recent outreach in southeast Queens

The leading causes for last year’s fire deaths were electrical, cooking, smoking and candles.

Captain Michael Kozo, who heads the FDNY’s fire safety education unit, says it’s important to come up with an escape route, in case of an emergency.

“So everybody knows how to get out of their home in a fire, we make sure everybody practices that plan when they have an opportunity to do so,” said Kozo.

Since 2015, the FDNY has distributed and installed almost 200,000 smoke alarms across the city.

For more information, head to FDNYsmart.org.