Fire-Proof Doesn’t Mean Fool-Proof

To the Editor,

A Manhattan man was killed and his husband critically injured when a fire broke out on the 20th floor of their West 43rd Street, midtown Manhattan high-rise on Sunday, January 5th. Both men entered the stairwell from the 38th floor and were overcome by the smoke conditions in the stairwell.

Fire officials have indicated that because of the “fire-proof” construction of the high-rise, the two men would likely not have been hurt had they stayed in their apartment, but the human instinct to flee potentially life-threatening conditions led the men into the stairwell. The fact remains that “fire-proof” is a misnomer. Fires can start and spread in buildings with this type of compartmentalized construction. In buildings with limited means of escape the best protection one can be afforded from a fire is through a properly installed and maintained fire sprinkler system. A fire sprinkler system is designed to control and typically extinguish a fire before the fire department even arrives on the scene.

We urge all New Yorkers to educate themselves on the current fire protection features of their own buildings, and learn how to protect themselves and their loved ones from the ravages of fire.


Russell Fleming

President, National Fire Sprinkler Association Fire-Proof Doesn’t Mean Fool-Proof