Fire Safety

Do you know what to do in case of a fire?

350 Bleecker Street is classified as a non-combustible building, which means that the structure may not catch on fire, but contents will catch fire and create life-threatening heat and smoke. Be aware that a fire can double in size every 30 seconds and can burn down a two-story building in five minutes, so knowing what to do can be a matter of life or death for you and your family.

A list of basic fire safety rules for residents was included in the annual window guard survey, but in case you had thrown it out, you can download and print this by clicking here.

The law states that this list should be laminated and posted inside your front door, but if you don’t like your apartment to look like a hotel room, make sure you keep it in a place where you can easily see it — perhaps tacked up inside the door of your closet closest to the front door.

On Wednesday, February 6, Firefighter Mike Jones of the New York City Fire Department came to our building to give a talk on fire prevention and safety. Since many of you were unable to attend, we’ll try to cover some of the major points he discussed.

Fire Prevention

Alarms: Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working. If you have a problem with your smoke alarm going off too often, try moving it further away from the kitchen, and hang it high on the wall. Some smoke alarms also have mute buttons which should help with this problem.

Wiring: Check the safety of the wiring on all appliances. For information on this, go here and click on “Electricity-Plug into Safety” to download a PDF.

Appliances: Heat-producing appliances such as toasters, coffee makers and curling irons should always be unplugged when not in use.

Kitchen Safety: The most common fires take place in the kitchen. Make sure that young children are not allowed to play near the stove when you’re not there. They could accidentally knock over a hot pan or play with the knobs on the stove — one good idea is to remove the knobs when you’re not nearby.

Grease fires are extremely dangerous. To put out the fire quickly:

  • Cover the pan with a flame-resistant cover large enough to cover the entire pan.
  • Pour enough baking soda (not baking powder!) over the fire.
  • Use an ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher — a good thing to have on hand, but know how to use it. To learn about using a fire extinguisher safely, go here and click on “Fire Extinguishers for Residential Use.”
  • If the fire is in the oven, turn the oven off and keep the door closed.

You have to be able to smother the fire completely, and if you’re unable to do so, leave your apartment quickly, making sure to close your door, and call 911.

For more information on fire prevention in the kitchen, go here and click on “Kitchen Cooking.”

Be Prepared

  • Make an escape plan with other members of your household.
  • If you have gates on your windows, make sure they’re FDNY approved, and that your windows open easily and are unobstructed in case you need to exit via the fire escape.
  • Check your insurance policy to make sure you’re covered for fire as well as water damage, in case the fire is in your apartment or the one above you. Take pictures of your possessions for future insurance claims.
  • Keep important papers in a fire-and-waterproof-box or safe.
  • Keep your official ID’s accessible at all times; if your papers are destroyed, you may not be able to access your bank account without a driver’s license or passport.

What to do if There’s a Fire in Our Building

(These guidelines only apply to non-combustible buildings, like ours.)

If the fire isn’t in your apartment:

Stay inside, call 911 and keep your door closed to keep out smoke. If there’s smoke in the hallway, seal your door with duct tape and place a wet towel or sheet at the bottom of the door.

If the fire happens during warm weather, turn off your air conditioner.

If the fire isn’t coming from the apartment directly below you, open your window a few inches. Don’t break any windows, as you may need to close them again.

If the fire is coming from an apartment directly below you, remove window curtains, shades and anything else close to the window as flames may be coming up the outside wall and could start a fire in your apartment.

If the fire is in your apartment:

Get out quickly and stay low. Use the fire escape or the staircase, whichever is safer.

Close but do not lock all of your doors. Leaving your door open, even a crack, can lead to the fire quickly spreading throughout the entire floor.

Do not, under any circumstances, use the elevator.

When you reach a safe location, call 911 and alert them to the exact location and conditions of the fire.

If you can’t escape for some reason, take a white pillowcase, towel or other piece of fabric and keep waving it out the window — when firefighters arrive at the building, they’ll be looking around the building from the outside for anyone in distress using this signal.

Whenever you have to navigate through smoke, stay close to the ground (smoke rises) and feel your way along the walls, as you won’t be able to see anything through the smoke.

Stay safe!