Steps to Take to Ensure Your Safety If a Building Fire Occurs

green and white lit exit sign in front of fire

Building fires are a serious threat in a city as dense as New York – and one every New Yorker should take seriously. City-wide, these largely preventable tragedies kill dozens and injure countless others annually. Knowing what steps to take allows you to protect yourself and others should a fire break out in a building you happen to be in.

Building Fire Stats in NYC

The New York City Fire Department responds to thousands of building fires each year. Statistics reveal a notable incidence of fires in high rises, apartment buildings, and office buildings across the city. In a recent year, the number of fire-related fatalities in New York City increased by 16 percent over the preceding year. The grim reality of an NYC building on fire is a common yet preventable occurrence with adequate safety measures in place.

Steps to Take to Ensure Your Safety in a Building Fire

Taking the following steps can help you safely escape from a building fire:

  • Have a Fire Safety Plan in Place. Don’t put off making a fire escape plan until an emergency actually happens. Develop an emergency plan that includes evacuation routes and designated meeting points.
  • Ensure Smoke Detectors Are Functional. Regularly check that your smoke detectors work. They are the first line of defense, alerting you to danger so you can act swiftly.
  • Maintain Clear and Working Exits. Fire doors and exits that are adequately maintained can significantly reduce the risk of injury or fatality in a fire. Keep stairways and fire escapes free of obstructions at all times. Always be aware of the primary and secondary exits in your building and keep them clear and accessible.
  • Familiarize Yourself with Fire Escapes. If a fire escape is available, know its location and how to use it safely.
  • Close Fire Doors. Fire doors limit the spread of smoke and flames. Never leave fire doors propped open.
  • Learn the “Stay or Go” Rule. If the fire is in your unit, get out and close the door behind you. If the fire is elsewhere, stay inside and seal the door and air vents to prevent smoke from entering. Call 911 immediately.
  • Balance Security and Fire Safety. While security gates or bars on windows may prevent intruders, they could potentially trap residents inside during a fire. Use only FDNY-approved security gates, which you can open without a key. Approved security gates are stamped or labeled with an FDNY approval number.

The Responsibility of Building Owners for Fire Safety

Building owners have a legal duty to maintain fire safety standards. They should provide fire safety plans, maintain exits and fire escapes, regularly inspect and maintain fire doors, and install working smoke detectors. If they are negligent in these duties, they could be responsible for injuries in a fire.

Get Help from Our NYC Fire Injury Attorneys

If you were hurt in a building fire in NYC, you need a legal team who knows how to handle fire-related cases. The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., has an established record of recovering significant compensation for building fire victims. We are ready to investigate the cause of the fire, evaluate the owner’s compliance with fire safety laws, and pursue compensation for you.

Reach out to us today for a free case review, and let us demand the justice you deserve.

For over 40 years, David H. Perecman has distinguished himself as one of the leading personal injury lawyers in New York City, championing all types of personal injury cases including construction accidents, premises accidents, automobile accidents, and medical malpractice, along with employment discrimination, false arrest, and civil rights cases.