Are Fire Escapes Really Safe Nowadays?

The question that is bugging in every New Yorkers’ mind after the tragic death of Broadway star Kyle Jean-Baptiste is how safe the fire escapes of New York are nowadays? Kyle Jean-Baptiste, the 21 years old first African-American Broadway star, who played Jean Valjean in “Les Miserable”, had met with sudden death falling from the fourth floor fire escape of an apartment situated in Bedford-Stuyvesant last August. His death once again brings the attention back in the iconic fire escapes of New-York city and their safety.

The iconic fire-escapes have introduced in the mid-1800s and since then it has become quite synonymous with the New–York city. The fire escapes are not only serving the purpose of an emergency exit but are used as extra space for the tenement apartments. Even they are used for spending leisure time or sleeping during summer. It is not uncommon to sit in a Fire-escape drinking and chatting with a friend. Earlier this year, a death of a 26-year-old young woman was reported when she had a fall from the fire escape while drinking with her friends. For this reason, Fire escape maintenance is a necessity for all the remaining fire escapes of NYC. In the year 1914, it was notified by the National Fire Protection Association that these Fire Escapes are poorly designed; sometimes impossible to repair the ladder of these Fire Escapes. Repairing the balconies connected to these Fire escapes are also a challenge as they are often crammed with the mattresses and clothes of the people living in these tenement apartments, which are often causing these accidents.  According to the Fire Escape regulations of late 1920s, the Fire Escape scrap and paint must be done with two or more good color contrasts, also the reuse of old material and cast iron in any new construction are prohibited.

According to the 1968 building code of New York City encourages the new buildings having sprinkler systems and interior stairwells instead of the iconic fire escapes. Despite that, the romance for this unique feature of New York City still remains. The fire escape inspection and refurbishment in a couple of years’ interval is necessary to maintain the safety of the fire escapes those are still remaining, especially servicing the ladder of Fire Escapes in a regular basis.  The citizens are also needed to keep their bikes, plants and other belonging away from these fire escapes to avoid the accidents. Only by following the fire escapes Certification Rules, New York City can only keep the iconic Fire Escapes alive, which bear the stories of millions of New Yorkers for years.