Fatal Fire Encourages Public Address Systems in High Rises

One New York City Councilman wants to make sure residents know whether to stay or go when an emergency strikes.

by / January 20, 2014

A tragic Manhattan fire has Councilman Corey Johnson calling for a bill that would require buildings higher than six stories to have public address systems in hallways and stairwells to guide residents in times of emergency.

The fatal fire on the 20th story of the Strand high-rise apartments on W. 43rd killed one man who attempted to flee the flames from his unit on the 38th floor. Daniel McClung is survived by his husband, Michael Cohen, who was badly injured in the blaze and remains hospitalized.
McClung was killed when he tried to escape the fire by going down a smoke-filled stairway when fire officials say he would have been safe had he just remained in his apartment.

“Many people don’t know if they live in a fireproof building, or whether or not they should stay or go during an emergency,” Johnson said. “He wasn’t given proper instructions when the fire broke out, and like many people, he just tried to flee and escape.”

Johnson’s plans to add public address systems would ensure residents know whether it would be safest to flee or stay put. The new rule would apply to thousands of buildings across the city.