Exclusive: Floral Park building destroyed in April fire was overdue for inspection
A Floral Park building that was the site of a massive fire back in April did not have a building inspection in nearly a decade, Team 12 Investigates has found.
Several businesses are still boarded up at 266 Jericho Turnpike. Hot spots burned for more than a day as 125 firefighters from 17 departments battled the flames and heavy smoke on April 17. Floors collapsed, creating dangerous conditions for first responders.
MORE: Fire chief: Floral Park fire finally extinguished after over a day of efforts Though the fire was determined not to be suspicious, the cause may never be known. Fire investigators say there is too much damage left behind.
New York state's building code requires fire inspections on these types of buildings at least once every three years. Team 12 Investigates found that the Village of Floral Park had not inspected the building since 2016.
Through a records request, Team 12 Investigates obtained village building inspection reports for 266 Jericho Turnpike. There were only two inspections done in the last decade—both in 2016.
One inspection in April 2016 found 11 violations. A follow-up inspection in July 2016 found four unresolved violations, including no smoke detector on the second floor and no carbon monoxide detector in the basement.
According to fire investigators, the building fire started in the basement in a recently renovated tenant space. It is unclear if the landlords corrected the outstanding fire code violations from 2016. The building owners could not be reached for comment.
MORE: 4-alarm fire at Floral Park building prompts massive response; 2 firefighters injured in truck accident Team 12 Investigates tried getting answers from the village's Building Department. Our calls and emails were not immediately returned.
Nassau County Chief Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro said they do offer help to inspectors in villages and cities, but his office is responsible for tens of thousands of other buildings in the county.
"It's challenging. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of places, if you do the math, it's hard to get into all those locations even once a year," said Uttaro. "There are places, unfortunately, that do fall into that threshold that maybe they didn't get a visit in five years, 10 years. But we do our best with the resources we have to try to get into every place that we can, and we triage many places as well."
Building and fire inspectors are often overworked and understaffed. Uttaro has added 16 new trainees to his office to help with workloads. No matter which department an inspector works for, he says they never let a violation go ignored.
"It's a task. It's an ominous task because of staffing, because of the amount of buildings," Uttaro added. "When you do an inspection, and you find a violation, it's our priority to get back there to make sure it gets corrected. We just can't walk away."