Almost all of the injuries suffered by tenants in Thursday night's high rise fire on the Lower East Side were preventable and the result of panic and poor decision making by residents. In addition to the 30 firefighters who reported injuries fighting the blaze on Grand St., 16 tenants of the 26 story building were injured--two seriously. FDNY officials say that all of the injuries to the tenants could have been avoided.
Roy Holloway was a tenant who knew what to do, which was to place a towel at the base of his apartment's door to impede smoke, stay put, and call 911. He understood what drove his neighbors into harms way though, as he told WABC news.
"My sense is there was a lot of panic," he said. "And when people panic, they're not thinking. And instead of staying within the unit, there's a tendency to go out, which means you're going into danger."
Most injuries were suffered by people who tried to flee down smoke-filled stairwells. Two people were seriously injured when they attempted to take an elevator downstairs and the car opened on the floor where the fire originated. The FDNY's guide on what to do in case of a fire is here. The most important point is to realize that all buildings are different, so plans on how to react to a fire are different. Having an established idea of what to do for one's individual situation before a fire occurs is key.