After deadly Hell’s Kitchen fire, new safety regulations proposed
A week after a Manhattan man died fleeing a fire with his new husband, friends stood on the steps of City Hall Monday to support safety measures that might have saved his life.
“Today we would be celebrating the six-month anniversary of this couple’s wedding,” friend Javier Morgado said. “Instead, we’re dealing with a tragedy and trying to make something good of it.”
Daniel McClung, 27, died trying to escape a fire with Michael Todd Cohen, 32, in their Hell’s Kitchen apartment building Jan. 5. The couple fled down a stairwell after a three-alarm blaze broke out on a different floor.
Firefighters were using the same stairwell to run a hose to put out the flames and it filled with smoke, killing McClung and critically-injuring Cohen.
Manhattan Councilman Corey Johnson proposed legislation Monday that would require buildings taller than six stories to have emergency public-address systems in stairwells and hallways. The systems would allow first responders and landlords to communicate better with residents, he and other officials said.
Such systems are currently required for residential buildings over 125 feet tall and built in or after 2009. Johnson said such a system could have alerted the couple to stay in their apartment.
“This is a common-sense, easy solution to protect lives,” Johnson said.
Morgado contacted Johnson after launching an online petition calling for a public-address requirement in high-rises.
“We need something good to come of this,” said Morgado, whose petition has received more than 5,000 signatures.
Fire officials said last week that the couple might have been safer from the 20th floor-fire in their own apartment on the 38th floor.
“This gentleman would be alive today if he had stayed in his apartment,” former FDNY Commissioner Thomas Von Essen said.
Johnson said he has informed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office of the proposed legislation and is open to amending the bill based on recommendations from the fire department.
Still unaware his husband has died, Cohen remains at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in stable condition.
“You’re never prepared to go through something like this,” said Jason Mitchell, 34, who has known Cohen for a decade and spoke on behalf of his family. “But we are all very, very touched and grateful for everything that has happened with this petition.”
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