Councilman to introduce fire safety bill in wake of deadly high-rise fire

Michael Todd Cohen & Daniel McClung
Michael Todd Cohen and Daniel McClung on their wedding day, July 13, 2013. Credit: Javier Morgado

The death of a 27-year-old playwright in a Manhattan fire last week continues to draw attention, and has prompted a bill calling for new fire safety measures in high-rise residential buildings.

Manhattan Councilman Corey Johnson is expected to announce the legislation later this morning, according to his chief of staff, Jeffrey LeFrancois. The law would ensure that first responders and building management are able to communicate with residents in emergencies.

A blaze broke out inside an apartment on the 20th floor of The Strand, located at 43rd Street and 10th Avenue, on Jan. 5.

Daniel McClung and his husband, Michael Todd Cohen, were trying to flee the building through an emergency stairwell when they were overcome by heavy smoke. McClung died and Cohen remains hospitalized.

Javier Morgado, a close friend of the couple, started an online petition last week calling on the City Council to introduce the bill. The petition has more than 5,100 signatures.

“[Daniel and Michael] were the unlucky ones. They chose the stairwell filled with smoke,” Morgado told Metro last week. “If there had been a public address system, like they have in office buildings, that critical information could have been communicated.”

Among the bill’s supporters is former FDNY Commissioner Thomas Von Essen.

“If older buildings are able to add wiring for the Internet and cable TV, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to require a public address speaker system in the stairwells that might save lives,” Von Essen said.

Today’s announcement is scheduled for 11 a.m. on the steps of City Hall.


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