The NYPD has instituted new protocols for officers responding to fires after a veteran cop died days after being overcome by smoke inside a Coney Island building where a fire raged and on the same day two other officers were hurt while rushing into a burning building in Williamsburg.
The new interim guidelines, which went into effect Thursday, state that officers should make every attempt to take the stairs. If they do take the elevator, officers should stop every five floors to check for smoke, and they must exit an elevator two floors below the fire's location.
Before Thursday, there was no standard protocol for NYPD officers responding to fires. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton promised more changes to the guidelines in the future.
The fire Thursday erupted in the building on Scholes Street in Williamsburg at about 1 p.m. More than 100 firefighters responded.
The NYPD said one sergeant and one patrolman had minor injuries and were conscious and alert. They went into the building to warn residents to get out, the NYPD said.
"He went upstairs, all the way up to the top floor, knocking on doors to make sure everyone was safe," resident David Diaz said of one of the officers. "He just comes downstairs coughing and heaving."
Bratton said he spoke to that officer's partner, who raced up the stairs to rescue Diaz's baby niece from a smoky apartment.
"She's a mother of five children herself, she's been on the job eight years," he said. "She said going in that 'the events of Sunday were very much on my mind, but I had to go in. I had to go in. I could hear the baby crying.'"
Both officers were treated for breathing problems after the fire.
During Sunday's fire in Coney Island, Officers Dennis Guerra, 38, and Rosa Rodriguez, 36, both members of the force's housing bureau, took an elevator to the the 13th floor to warn residents and help evacuate the building.
When they emerged from the elevator, they were overcome by smoke and were found unconscious by firefighters. They were taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Guerra, a married father of four and seven-year NYPD veteran, died shortly before 7 a.m. Wednesday, police say. Rodriguez is said to be recovering.
The Shilver Shield Foundation says it has set up a fund to help pay college expenses for Guerra's four children.
Teenager Marcell Dockery was arrested Monday on assault, reckless endangerment and arson charges in connection with the fire, which originated from a mattress in the building.
It's not clear if he has an attorney, nor was it known if he would face additional charges following Guerra's death.
--Brynn Gingras and Checkey Beckford contributed to this report