It’s tough enough to get anyone to pay attention to fire doors, but when a fire is a result of a “voodoo sex ceremony,” there’s little to no chance that anyone will take note of the role played by the propped-open fire door. In a 5-alarm fire in Brooklyn on February 20th, the door to the apartment where the fire originated was propped open in an attempt to dissipate the smoke. A window in the apartment was also opened, and heavy winds blew the fire out into the corridor. Other open doors in the corridor allowed the fire to spread and the 7-story building was destroyed.
Even if the fire doors were functioning properly, the building occupants could defeat the closing mechanism by propping the door open. The occupants of the apartment also tried to put the fire out using water from the bathroom sink, delayed calling the fire department, and left the door propped open when they left. Fire door inspections need to be combined with public education to make sure people are aware of the purpose of fire doors and the proper procedures during a fire. This fire resulted in one fatality, 20 firefighter injuries, 3 civilian injuries, and left more than 100 people homeless.
The Official FDNY Announcement
“As smoke began to gather in the apartment, one of the other occupants opened a window and propped open the door to the public hall in an attempt to dissipate the smoke. Wind gusts of up to 40 mph instead shot the flames back inside, creating a blowtorch effect as winds whipped in through the open window and pushed fire out into the hallway. The occupants fled the apartment, leaving the door open.”
KTLA News Including Video
“Time and time again we respond to tragedies that could have been so easily prevented,” Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano said in a statement Friday. “This fire had so many of those elements – candles left on the floor near combustible material, one of the occupants trying to douse the flames before calling 911 and an open door, which allowed fire to spread into the hallway. Hopefully others will learn from this tragedy.”
New York Times
“Now, other doors on that fourth floor are also left open and the fire travels in those apartments,” Mr. Long said. “That helps the fire grow.”