In wake of lethal Midwood fire, BP Adams calls for Brooklyn burn center

March 24, 2015 From BP Eric Adams' office
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams holds up a smoke detector next to his poster on fire safety essentials as he announced a borough-wide fire safety education campaign called for the creation of a burn center in Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of Adams' office
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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announced a borough-wide fire safety education campaign, following a fatal fire Saturday in Midwood that claimed the lives of seven siblings, aged five to 16, from the Sassoon family. Additionally, Borough President Adams called for the creation of a burn center in Brooklyn which, despite being home to the fourth-largest population in the United States, currently has no such facility; the Sassoon family’s mother and one of her daughters are currently in critical condition at burn centers in the Bronx and Staten Island, respectively, after sustaining severe burns and smoke inhalation.                                                                                                                          

“We must turn our pain into purpose in the wake of this horrific tragedy, and the memories of the seven Sassoon children are the seven most important reasons for us to act with urgency,” said Borough President Adams. “The prayers of Brooklyn, New York City, and indeed the entire world are with this family and the entire Midwood community, which has lost seven angels far too soon. In their blessed memory, we must go above the call of duty and do everything we can to advance fire safety, supporting the hard-working men and women of the FDNY that responded with valor to this terrible incident.”

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Borough President Adams’ fire safety education effort will include multilingual outreach, including translation of materials in Spanish, Yiddish, and other key languages, as well as the distribution of free smoke detectors, examples of which were on display at his press conference. He expressed that his office will distribute materials at train stations, senior centers, and other high-traffic locations, as well as partner on fire safety events around the borough; he is hosting one such event tomorrow night from 7:00 PM until 9:30 PM at PS 193 Gil Hodges, located at 2515 Avenue L, in partnership with Council Member Chaim Deutsch, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Public Advocate Letitia James, in conjunction with Representative Yvette Clarke, Assembly Members Rodneyse Bichotte, Dov Hikind, and Helene Weinstein, Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, and Community Board 14. Borough President Adams also noted the importance of local fire safety education efforts due to the high number of fires in the borough; in 2014, there were 8,041 structural fires in Brooklyn, more than any other borough and 30 percent of the citywide total. 

“We need to re-educate every Brooklynite and every New Yorker on fire safety, which is why my office is embarking on a major fire safety education effort with our partners in the FDNY and community leaders,” said Borough President Adams. “Basic safety tips must be repeated and ingrained in our collective consciousness, to ensure that we are all limiting our fire risk. We will work to get this information out to every corner of the borough, communicating in the languages that Brooklyn speaks every day.”

Regarding his call for the first burn center in Brooklyn, Borough President Adams asked all of the borough’s hospitals, both public and private, to put forward any and all proposals. He expressed that any such plan that he feels is strong would be supported with funding from his capital budget. 

“Brooklyn’s lack of a burn center is not just an emotional burden to families who are removed from their loved ones; it is a potential medical liability,” said Borough President Adams. “Burn center care, like medical services at trauma centers, has been linked to improved survival rates, decreased hospital costs, and shorter lengths of in-patient care. This is not just about borough equity; this is about providing the necessary medical infrastructure that can save lives. I look forward to addressing this gap in care and working to bring the first burn center to the borough.”

Borough President Adams was joined by elected officials and Jewish leaders, who have been deeply impacted by this loss in their community, inside FDNY headquarters at MetroTech Center, where all spoke about the need to emphatically respond to this tragedy.

“As we mourn together the incredible loss of young lives this past weekend, we must begin our healing process together,” said Public Advocate James. “We must empower and educate our community about fire safety so that this never happens again. We must also ensure that our communities have the resources to deal with fire injuries, which is why I stand with Borough President Eric Adams in his call for a burn center in Brooklyn and a burn center in Queens.”

“As this terrible tragedy shows, a fire can spread in an instant and leave a lifetime of heartache in its wake,” said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz. “Having working smoke detectors can save our loved ones and give us the precious seconds we need to escape a fire in our home. I applaud Borough President Adams’ initiative and hope that it succeeds in raising awareness in our communities about the importance of preparing for a fire emergency. Safety first can save lives.” 

“As we mourn the loss of seven young lives in the tragic fire in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, we recognize that life is precious and we must do all we can to ensure our families’ safety,” said Assembly Member Walter Mosley. “Working smoke detectors are crucial. I wish to take this time to urge everyone to make sure your home has fully functioning smoke detectors and check the batteries often.  I also echo Borough President Adams’ call for the creation of a specialized burn unit here in Brooklyn. As our borough grows, we must demand that our healthcare and emergency services keep in pace to match the needs of our community. If your home does not have a smoke detector, please call 311 and request a free alarm from FDNY so that we may avoid tragic accidents like what we witnessed on Saturday.”

“This tragedy has shaken us all,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon. “One thing is clear: we need to be better educated about fire safety and when the unspeakable occurs, Brooklyn needs to be ready to treat its burn victims here. I applaud Borough President Adams vision and will work with him and my colleagues in government to‎ change this.” 

“All of New York is mourning with the Sassoon family and those who know and love the victims of this tragedy,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr. “We must all learn from this incident and apply those lessons to improving fire safety moving forward. That’s why I join Borough President Adams in calling for increased fire safety education for all Brooklynites and the creation of a burn center in our borough, so injured residents can be cared for close to home.” 

“As chair of the Women’s Issues Committee, my thoughts and prayers are with Gayle and Siporah Sassoon – the two survivors of the fatal fire in Midwood, which tragically took the lives of seven family members Saturday morning,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo. “As a community, as a borough, and as New Yorkers, we all must mourn the loss felt by the Sassoon family as we must mourn for any loss to humanity. I stand with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ call to increase fire safety education and for a burn center to ensure that our loved ones in need of critical care after a fire can remain in their borough near their families as they recover from their injuries. As the most populous of the five boroughs in New York City, it is imperative that we take proactive steps to ensure the safety of our own households through the use of smoke alarms and other fire prevention methods. We must ensure that the lessons of this calamity will not pass in vain. We must dedicate ourselves instead to preventing future tragedies and devote our resources to caring for our neighbors here at home.” 

“The grief felt throughout my district is palpable, as we are distraught and in mourning,” said Council Member Deutsch. “Seven young brothers and sisters perished while a fire raged through their bedrooms. This inconceivable tragedy has left a family broken and a community devastated. We must educate ourselves in an attempt to avert future disaster. We cannot afford to have another catastrophe. It is imperative that we be conscientious and prepared. Borough President Adams and I, along with FDNY and our colleagues in government, will be hosting a fire safety training at PS 193, open to all community residents.  I urge everyone to attend this Tuesday’s informative fire safety training, which will be held in memory of the Sassoon children, who unfortunately lost their lives this weekend.”

“I join Borough President Eric Adams in calling for the creation of a new burn center in Brooklyn,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene. “In a borough that is home to over 2.6 million people, it is difficult to comprehend how we do not already have such a facility.  Two of the victims of Saturday’s tragic fire had to be transported to burn centers located in the Bronx and Staten Island.  We must do better for people in Brooklyn who suffer severe burns from fires, and therefore, let us all be resolute in taking the necessary steps to having a burn center established in our borough as expeditiously as possible.”

“This past Saturday morning we awakened to the horrific news of the loss of seven precious children in our collective Brooklyn community,” said Council Member Darlene Mealy. “We as New Yorkers feel the pain and loss of the family as if it were our own, and pray fervently for the complete recovery of Mrs. Gayle Sassoon and her daughter, Tzipporah. My prayers are also with husband and father Mr. Gabriel Sassoon, as he tries to cope with this horrific catastrophe. May the family be comforted in the knowledge that the hearts of ALL New Yorkers are with them, as they go forward to piece their lives together. The pain of this tragedy underscores the urgent need for easily accessible fire safety instruction, and I am determined to work with my colleagues in government to ensure that we do everything we can to safeguard the lives of all New Yorkers.” 

“As our City deals with the horrific Midwood fire that claimed the lives of seven children, I continue to pray for the Sassoon family and those impacted by this tragic incident,” said Council Member Williams. “Our borough has more fires than any other in this city, including an alarming number in my district. This tragedy happened just outside of my district, but it is unacceptable that we do not have a burn center to give world-class aid to burn victims in Brooklyn, so I applaud Borough President Adams for demanding its creation. It’s my hope that with this and continued fire education, our community will see far less tragedies like the ones we saw last weekend.”

“The loss of seven young wonderful lives is tragic beyond words,” said Rabbi David Niederman, President of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg. “At the same time, every family is obliged – by logic and by religion – to have a VISION ZERO, by doing what’s humanely possible to avoid any such tragedy. Everybody must have working fire alarms, must test it now to ensure it is operating properly, and must make sure to change the battery and test it at least twice a year. Also, make sure that every device is safe and used according to the safety instructions, and follow all other safety tips, especially with the upcoming Passover holiday. We thank the Borough President for his initiative to sound the alarm bells on the importance of fire alarms.”

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