Jarvis: “It’s not rocket science”
NEWBURGH – The recent deaths of three Newburgh residents from carbon
monoxide poisoning in their homes has brought the issue of code violations
to the surface.
A group of community activists, Newburgh and Orange County officials gathered
Saturday to discuss the growing concerns about code violations and their
potential for injury or death of city residents.
That concern goes beyond just their health and safety, Newburgh Ministry
Executive Director Colin Jarvis told the forum.
“It’s not rocket science. It’s really looking at the
buildings; it’s really coming up with a system that if the fire
department condemns a building then people are transitioned immediately
and not put out on the street, but have some place to go. That system
has to be organized and structured with folks who are in charge,”
he said. “These are the folks that will not surface in terms of
‘well, I need a smoke detector,’ they are just looking for
a very basic human need, the need for shelter.”
Fire Chief Michael Vatter agreed saying he feels terrible if a code violation
results in the displacement of residents without any place to relocate.
Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus said the three recent deaths were
preventable. The county health department offers CO and smoke detectors
at no charge to people who cannot afford them. The health department’s
Robert Dietrich said last year, the county distributed 323 smoke detectors
and 174 CO detectors to residents in Newburgh, Middletown and Port Jervis.
Vatter noted that rental units must have those devices installed and private
homes should as well, but officials cannot enter a private residence without
permission to check on them. He did advise, though, that any resident
who believes they have a carbon monoxide issue to call the fire department,
which will respond immediately to check it out.