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Rose Gill Hearn, the city Department of Investigation's commissioner, and Nicholas Scoppetta, the FDNY commissioner, announced June 10 the arrest of 104 business owners, employees and building owners in the past week on warrants, charging them with failing to appear before city criminal courts on outstanding criminal summonses citing fire code violations.
The fines so far of those arrested have ranged from $100 to $2,000 and in the past week 35 individuals have been fined a total of $13,550 for fire code violations. The various ways in which fire codes have been violated include failing to maintain a standpipe or sprinkler system, blocking exits, illegally storing propane and having no fire extinguishers. Violations were issued for commercial buildings and multiple dwellings.
Queens businesses that have pled guilty include the 69th St. Car Wash, Granite and Marble and Nathalie Autobody.
"Failing to address fire code violations puts New Yorkers at serious risk, and this citywide sweep is designed to ensure all business and building owners adhere to the law," Scoppetta said. "Public safety is our top priority, and this department will not tolerate anyone who ignores critical fire safety regulations."
These arrests come about when individuals do not respond to criminal summonses for fire code violations. Some arrests were made because the individual failed to comply with the fire commissioner's order to correct them. These individuals allegedly then failed to appear before the court to answer the summonses, which are unclassified misdemeanors.
In court, those accused either paid fines or had their cases adjourned for another date, or the charges against them were sealed after payment of fines or dismissed.
These arrests show a continuing effort on the part of the DOI and FDNY to crack down on fire violations citywide. The latest sweep began June 2 and continued for four days last week resulting in 25 arrests in Queens, 30 in the Bronx, 27 in Manhattan and 22 in Brooklyn. These individuals were arrested at their homes and businesses and other locations on arrest warrants and brought to court to face fire code violations.
These citywide sweeps began last July after DOI found numerous outstanding arrest warrants charging individuals with failing to appear in court to answer the violations. On Oct. 10, a similar sweep was performed, landing 35 business owners, employees and building owners on warrants for allegedly failing to appear before city criminal courts on outstanding criminal summons issued for various fire code violations.
In 2007, Queens had 5,166 structural fires and 4,375 non-structural fires. The average response time was around 5 minutes 10 seconds. Citywide, there has been 28,004 structural fires and 19,388 non-structural fires.
Report fire hazards to the FDNY by calling 718-999-2541.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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