New York lawmakers seek to crack down on space heaters after deadly Bronx fire

New York state lawmakers appear poised to implement minimum safety requirements for electric heaters in response to the Bronx fire that killed 17 people earlier this year.

The state Senate unanimously approved a bill Monday that would require electric space heaters to have a thermostat and an automatic shutoff feature in order to be sold in New York. Such heaters would also have to be certified by an OSHA-recognized testing agency, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), according to the bill.

The bill was one of a handful of fire safety measures the Senate passed Monday, including one that would increase penalties for violating New York City’s building code and housing standards for the first time since 1987. Among other augmentations, each is “immediately dangerous.” the violation in a building with at least 10 units would be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 per day until corrected, instead of the current $125.

Some of the bills passed the Senate were first introduced in the days after the deadly Jan. 9 fire at the Twin Parks North West high-rise apartment building, which firefighters determined was caused by an electric heater. faulty and exacerbated by broken cars. -close doors that allow the spread of smoke.

“These measures will improve the safety of all New York homes and protect families,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers.

The bills will now head to the state Assembly, which, like the Senate, is under firm Democratic control. However, the bills are not guaranteed to get a vote in the lower house.

“We discuss all the issues with our conference,” Michael Whyland, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, said when asked if the measures would come to a vote.

But the space heater measure appears headed for likely passage, according to Assemblyman Kenny Burgos, the Bronx Democrat sponsoring the legislation, along with Manhattan Sen. Cordell Cleare.

Burgos said the bill was recently amended to make it clear that it applies only to electric space heaters after some raised concerns that it could essentially ban propane heaters often used for camping, which don’t they can be equipped with an automatic shutdown because there is no electrical source.

“I think we’re going to be fine,” Burgos said of the bill’s possibilities. “I have even talked to the members across the aisle. I think they agree with the bill. We made some amendments to make sure there were no unintended consequences of the bill. So I think it should be a smooth process.”

Monday’s Senate action came after New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed a March executive order tightening enforcement on residential buildings with repeated fire safety violations, in part by require more frequent inspections of delinquent properties.

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