Management Apparently Told Tenants Fire Escapes Weren't Needed

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It has turned into a nightmare scenario for an entire apartment building in the Bronx.

About 200 people in 76 units at 2400 Webb Ave. in University Heights were told to leave their apartments after a dangerous discovery — all the fire escapes were removed for renovations. Now, tenants are scared and angry.

Longtime residents of the seven-story apartment building found out they’ll have to vacate from a sign on the door. Residents were told they could stay Monday night, but must be out of the building by 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Building management, which is doing ongoing maintenance work outside, removed every fire escape, one by one, telling residents they’re not required, CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported Monday.

“[They] told us because they had two separate staircases, that they didn’t need the fire escapes on the buildings,” James King said.

FDNY Deputy Chief Jay Jonas said it’s incredible the building owners, Goldfarb Properties, violated their own permits, spelling out what’s not permissible, including no change in egress. So the chief demanded an explanation.

“Why would you think that that would be good for the tenants, and he didn’t have an answer for me,” he said. “They’ll tell you they got bad advice from different people, different architects, but they’re responsible, it’s their building.”

Wanda Nieves, who has lived in the building for 30 years, said building management started removing the fire escapes last month, after telling residents they were doing simple repairs. The FDNY got wind of it, issued a stop-work order and started investigating.

Residents are clearly aware of the obvious danger of living in a building with no fire escapes, but they’re even more worried now about having to vacate with little notice.

“We weren’t even aware until it was being done — that the fire escapes were gonna be removed,” King said.

“I’m upset because where are we gonna go? How many days am I gonna be out of my apartment?” asked Nieves.

Goldfarb Properties said it will remedy the situation no matter how long it takes.

The FDNY also found a number of other violations, including no firewall in the garage. Everything has to be fixed before the building can re-open.

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