Officials claim owner delayed alarm installation

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y.—Nassau County fire officials claim that a property owner of Hempstead Village apartments, where a deadly fire claimed two lives last week, was slow in putting in a new automatic fire alarm system, according to an article from FireEngineering.com.

The apartment complex had several previous violations with the Nassau County fire marshal’s office, according to the article, and management had been ordered before Hurricane Sandy struck to install a new fire alarm system, officials said last week. Plans were approved by the fire marshal on Jan. 2 and work began after that, according to the report.

Installation was still underway when the Feb. 9 fire started, claiming the lives of Guadalupe Ramirez, 37, and her eight-year-old son, Fernando, the report said. About 250 residents were forced out of five adjoining apartment buildings.

The article quotes Michael Uttaro, general inspection division supervisor of the fire marshal's office, speaking about the property owner and manager, Dorchester LLC of Oyster Bay, N.Y. Uttarosaid, “We continuouslygave them violations for the fire alarm system. They had a Band-Aid system . . . They had been dragging their feet installing the new system.”

Dorchester LLC had to upgrade the emergency lighting and complete the installation of the new fire alarm system before residents were allowed to return to neighboring unaffected buildings, the article said.