Rozic touts awareness after Fresh Meadows house fire

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic hopes that more awareness about fires and how they start may prevent further tragedies in the borough like the fire that broke out in this Fresh Meadows home.
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As a Fresh Meadows family recovers from a night-time fire that filled their home with smoke earlier this month, northeast Queens community leaders over the weekend announced a campaign to promote fire safety awareness.

“The awareness campaign will help more residents become aware of dangers associated with residential fires and ensure that more homes have working smoke alarms and detectors,” state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) said at her office Sunday when she was joined by state Sens. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) in kicking off the campaign.

“We know this follows a recent tragedy in Fresh Meadows in which a fire injured about four, both parents and children, and has caused elevated concern throughout the community,” she said.

Around 2 a.m. April 1, a fire broke out in the kitchen of the family’s second-floor apartment and quickly filled the home with smoke. The mother, father and two children were taken to the hospital.

Matthew Desjardin, the Queens trustee for the Uniformed Firefighters Association, said that as of Sunday the 13-year-old son had yet to be released from the hospital, and the father was still recovering at Cornell Medical Center’s burn ward.

Desjardin said 2012 was the second-busiest year in the FDNY’s history and it is more crucial now than ever that firefighters make it to the scene as quickly as possible.

“Fires are getting hotter, they’re burning faster and they’re more toxic than ever before. The reason for this is there’s a petroleum-based compound that [is] now found in your office furnishings and just regular everyday furniture,” he said. “It used to take 20-30 minutes for a fire to reach a degree of over 2,000 degrees; now it’s happening within three minutes.”

Rozic said the campaign will have three parts. From noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, the FDNY’s fire education unit will hand out free smoke detectors and information at the assemblywo­man’s office, at 159-16 Union Tnpk.

On April 29, the department’s Mobile Fire Safety Experience will be at PS 173 in Fresh Meadows from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to teach children and families about fire safety, Rozic said, and volunteer teams will help out in the coming weeks by canvassing the community with additional safety tips.

“Following very simple fire-safety tips, such as making sure the house is equipped with working smoke alarms, testing smoke alarms monthly, making and practicing a home escape plan and knowing two ways out of every room, can really make all the difference during a fire,” Rozic said.

And the campaign has already made at least one northeast Queens resident more aware.

Stavisky said that after reading one of the FDNY’s pamphlets, she realized she had recently committed an unsafe act: leaving the oven on in her kitchen while she ran downstairs to pull out her laundry.

“I realized that is a very dangerous thing to do,” she said, “so I encourage people to read the fire safety tips.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 12:36 am, April 12, 2013
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