Fire reveals over 100 violations at Rockland County apartment complex

Hazardous conditions shed light on lax code enforcement in Spring Valley, county official said

Tri-State /
Mar.March 24, 2022 09:30 AM
101 Kennedy Drive (Loopnet, iStock)

101 Kennedy Drive (Loopnet, iStock)

A fire in a Rockland County apartment complex that resulted in four hospitalizations this month has led to scores of safety violations at the property, officials said.

Rockland County’s Office of Buildings and Codes cited more than 100 violations at the Country Village Towers at 101 Kennedy Drive in Spring Valley, LoHud reported, including haphazard bedroom conversions, faulty smoke alarms, exposed wires and black mold.

County inspectors found worrisome subdivisions, such as bedrooms attached to other bedrooms, walls next to front doors and in front of windows, beds in living rooms and locks on internal doors, suggesting single-room occupancy within units — conditions that could make it more challenging for firefighters to navigate through heavy smoke.

Other issues included a lack of fire extinguishers in hallways and smoke alarms in bedrooms, combustible materials such as flammable caulking and a corroded fire pump.

“There was no early alert at all when we showed up,” Rockland County Fire Inspector Bill Gorbutt, who was on the scene of the March 9 fire, told CBS 2. “Those alarms were not sounding, the strobes were not activated. So the tenants basically were going on, if they saw smoke, smelled smoke, they were knocking on each other’s doors.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, officials said. It displaced two dozen families and firefighters needed to rescue a 2-year-old by carrying the child down seven flights of stairs through smoke, according to LoHud. Four people were hospitalized with possible smoke inhalation.

The complex is owned by Country Village Towers Corp., which barred reporters from entering the property on Friday, according to LoHud.

It’s not the first time violations have been reported at Country Village Towers. According to county records obtained by LoHud, an inspection in 2019 uncovered 11 violations; it’s not clear whether there was a follow-up or corrective action, but some of the same problems have emerged three years later.

Rockland County assumed responsibility for inspections and code enforcement in Spring Valley last month on orders from the New York Department of State, which cited “ongoing deficiencies” in the village’s enforcement program.

“It’s properties like Country Village Towers that underline exactly why New York State has directed my administration to assume full control of the Building Department in the Village of Spring Valley,” said county executive Ed Day.

Despite the problems, the county has said the issues identified are not serious enough for a vacate order, according to CBS 2.

[LoHud] — Holden Walter-Warner





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