NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York City public housing maintenance workers ignored safety checks and covered it up, according to the Department of Investigation.
The department launched an investigation following a fire in April that killed two children at the Butler Houses in the Bronx. Investigators said a maintenance worker had been to the apartment just hours earlier and falsely reported that the smoke alarms were working. That person no longer works with the New York City Housing Authority, DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said.
In a report released Tuesday, the department said that it re-inspected 240 apartments at five developments recently visited by maintenance workers. Over half the apartments had deficiencies that should have been caught by the workers.
“First of all, a large number of apartments did not have functioning smoke detectors, and second of all, in many cases, NYCHA workers had falsified paperwork saying that they had checked the smoke detectors when in fact they had not,” Peters told 1010 WINS.
Peters said the investigation “determined that the city’s failure to follow the rules has put children in real danger.”
NYCHA spokeswoman Jean Weinberg said safety is the agency’s top priority.
“It is simply unacceptable to put NYCHA residents at risk because of neglect or indifference,” Weinberg said. “We remain committed to building safer, cleaner and more connected communities.”
In addition to disciplinary actions, Weinberg said the department has improved inspection protocols and training, and launched an internal audit and awareness campaign in June.
“We’ve insisted that NYCHA do a proper audit now to make sure that every NYCHA apartment has a working smoke detector,” Peters said. “We are insisting that supervisors do their job and check to make sure that maintenance workers are filling out the forms accurately.”
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