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Protecting against fire and floods in your NYC apartment

In this episode of the Brick Underground podcast, Robert O'Brien, co-founder of New York Fire Consultants, joins host Emily Myers to discuss how to protect yourself if there's a fire or flood water in your apartment or building.
By Brick Underground  | February 16, 2022 - 9:30AM  | TRANSCRIPT

Recent deaths from fires and flooded apartments are likely prompting many New Yorkers to ask: How do I stay safe in my apartment? In this episode, Robert O’Brien, co-owner of New York Fire Consultants and a former F.D.N.Y. firefighter, discusses with host Emily Myers how to minimize fire hazards, find out if your building is up to code, determine if a basement apartment is legal, and where to look for your building's fire safety plan.

O'Brien points out the New York City fire code doesn’t require landlords to put fire extinguishers in your apartment but they are required to put a fire escape plan—or fire and emergency preparedness guide—on the inside of every apartment door. Generally this guidance will direct you to leave the building, close the door, and call 911 in the event of a fire. Closing the door is important—it can stop fire and smoke spreading and all residential buildings with more than three apartments must have self-closing doors. O'Brien recommends looking at the self-closing doors in your building and checking they click shut when closing. If they don't, get in touch with the landlord to report the problem. 

It's important to know that your landlord is required by law to provide you with adequate heat. Tenants shouldn't have to heat their apartments with space heaters, which run the risk of malfunctioning, as was the case in the recent tragic fire in the Bronx. During heat season, which runs from October 1st and May 31st, you should call your landlord and the city if the temperature in your apartment is below 68 degrees when it is 55 degrees outside.  At night during heat season, the indoor temperature must be above 62 degrees. Plus, you should have hot water year-round. If you tell the landlord you haven't got heat or hot water and nothing happens you can call 311, which could result in inspections and fines for your landlord.

O'Brien also has a warning about lithium-ion batteries, which he says have recently been the cause of multiple fires. He points out you should never charge equipment with these battery packs unattended and always wait for them to cool down before you plug them in. 

The episode touches on personal safety issues and gives some reminders about a landlord's responsibility when it comes to building safety. 

The Brick Underground podcast explores every aspect of buying, selling, and renting in NYC so you can better navigate the market, find a deal, make sense of the legal jargon, and stay one step ahead of the competition.

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