Posted by Ehren on January 16, 2001 at 10:43:09:
After starting a load of laundry, my wife and two young children (ages 3 and 5) were trapped in the basement of our apartment building for over seven hours yesterday when both elevators failed. The emergency exits in the basement are chained and bolted shut, and all of the ground-level windows are boarded up. I didn't even discover that they were missing until I got home from work at 10:00; they had been stuck in there since 3:30.
To compound the problem, the super did not answer his door or telephone when I tried to summon him for help in getting access to the basement. I had to call FDNY, and they finally bashed in one of the basement windows and pulled my family out.
So I have several questions:
1. Fire codes were clearly violated here (all firefighters on the scene acknowledged this). Does FDNY handle fire code enforcement and citations, or are they handled through DHCR or some other agency?
2. I am troubled by the super's unavailability during this ordeal. Is there a uniform law regarding a super's availability? If so, who handles enforcement and citations if it is violated?
3. My children have been somewhat traumatized by this experience, as you might imagine (if you could see the conditions in this basement, you would understand--think "Silence of the Lambs" and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about). I think it is reasonable to demand some sort of compensation from my landlord for the inconvenience, discomfort, and endangerment my family faced. Any suggestions on how to pursue this?
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