The two survivors of the Midwood fire that killed seven children on Saturday had to be sent out-of-borough to have their burns treated because Brooklyn doesn’t have a burn center, a situation Borough President Adams says he will remedy.
Adams called for the creation of a dedicated burn unit in the borough on Monday, saying he will use money from his discretionary fund to help pay for the creation of the unit in an existing Brooklyn hospital, which would cut down on the time and expense of building an entirely new center.
“We should not leave 2015 without a burn center in Brooklyn,” Adams told reporters after the press conference.
Brooklyn is one of only two boroughs, along with Queens, to lack such a facility. The two survivors of the blaze, Gayle Sassoon and her daughter Siporah, were taken separately to burn units in the Bronx and Staten Island. Both remain in critical condition, officials said.
Adams and other community leaders at the press conference also implored Brooklynites to observe proper fire safety in the wake of the tragedy, while fire officials handed out free smoke detectors and pamphlets aimed specifically at the Orthodox Jewish community.
The Midwood fire began early on Saturday morning after a malfunctioning hot plate, used to warm food on the Sabbath when cooking is not allowed, caught fire and spread to the rest of the house. There were no smoke detectors on the first or second floors, allowing the flames to remain undetected until it was too late, officials said.
Councilman David Greenfield (D–Flatbush), who follows Orthodox tradition, suggested that families use a timer to make sure a hot plate is only on for the time that it is needed and avoid leaving devices unattended. He said that people don’t have to choose between following the tenets of their faith and their own safety.
“The most important message we can have is to spend 10 bucks per floor and make sure you have a smoke detector,” he said.
A somber Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Midwood) shared his own near brush with tragedy, describing the time a smoke detector alerted him to an electrical fire that he said could have consumed his family had it gone unnoticed.
“That annoying sound that might wake you up in the morning is probably the reason why my family is here today,” he said.
Adams, Deutsch, and others will hold a community fire safety training in Midwood tonight.
Community safety training at PS 193 [2515 Avenue L between Bedford Avenue and East 26th Street in Midwood, (718) 368–9176]. March 24 at 7 pm.