University Issued Seven Fire Code Violations in Past Year and a Half
Yeshiva University has been charged with seven fire violation summonses over the past 16 months on its Beren and Wilf Campuses, The Commentator has learned. According to New York State Unified Court System (UCS) records, all seven of these charges are currently pending in Manhattan Summons Court.
The seven summonses were all issued for failing to comply with a corrective order issued by city fire marshals. Pursuant to the New York City Administrative Code, upon finding a violation of the fire code, an inspector is directed to issue a written order to correct the hazard within a reasonable time frame. Failure to comply with the written order results in the issuance of a summons.
“As a large institutional owner we are subject to many random inspections by various city agencies,” explained Chief Facilities & Administrative Officer Randy Apfelbaum. “Sometimes these result in minor violations which require the University to provide paperwork to clear. None of these minor violations compromise the safety or integrity of the University’s buildings, the students, faculty or staff. The University Operations department works to address issues that arise in a timely manner and ensures that the buildings are maintained in a safe condition.”
According to copies of the summonses obtained from UCS, the university was served with four summonses for failure to comply with an order to submit satisfactory fire safety and evacuation plans for the Brookdale Residence Hall on May 14, 2018 and Nov. 16, 2017, as well as for the Schottenstein Residence Hall on April 12, 2018 and Nov. 28, 2017. Both residence halls are located on the midtown Beren Campus.
Another summons was issued on Nov. 17, 2017 for “failure to obtain a Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation” for Zysman Hall on the Wilf Campus, whereas another summons was issued on Feb. 12, 2018 for failing to maintain a public assembly space in accordance with approved floor and seating plans in Stanton Hall. Additionally, on Feb. 15, 2018, the university received a summons for failing to maintain communication capability between the fire command station and elevators in the Schottenstein Residence Hall.
Eliana Moss (SCW ‘19) was not surprised. “I left Brookdale because I felt unsafe there,” she said. “It makes sense that the fire safety is not up to code.”
Other students were indifferent. “I know where to go if there is a fire. I feel safe in Schottenstein,” said Ahuva Wakschlag (SSSB ‘20).
According to the law, conviction on each such charge comes with a maximum of $10,000 in fines and civil penalties. If the failure to correct the fire code violation was done so knowingly, the defendant is liable to a maximum of $20,000 in fines and civil penalties on each charge, as well as a maximum of six months imprisonment. Under Article 600 of the New York Criminal Procedure Law, a corporation may be charged as a defendant in a criminal proceeding and pay any penalties resulting thereof.
This article has been updated since its original publication to include a statement from University Operations.
Photo Caption: The Brookdale Residence Hall on the Beren Campus was cited twice for failing to submit satisfactory fire safety and evacuation plans for the FDNY on two separate occasions.
Photo Credit: Honey Rogoff/The Commentator