Jennifer Vazquez

Fire Escape Step Plunges 7 Stories in Lower Manhattan, Hits 2 People on Street: Officials

What to Know

  • Two people were injured after a step from a fire escape fell seven stories in lower Manhattan Friday afternoon
  • An inspector checking the fire escape somehow dislodged the step that plunged to the street below
  • There are varying reports regarding the extent of the victims' injuries

An inspector visiting a lower Manhattan fire escape as part of a regular check somehow dislodged one large white metallic-looking step, sending it plunging seven stories to the ground below, where it injured two people, authorities say. 

The inspector, who does not work for the Department of Buildings, slipped a bit but was able to pull herself up. Two people on the ground -- a 25-year-old woman and a man of unknown age -- were hit by the step, which was later seen cordoned off by officers responding to the Howard Street scene.

The step hit the man and woman in the head. Both were taken to Bellevue and are in critical condition.

According to Michael Gala, deputy assistant chief for the FDNY, the step dislodged under the weight of the inspector.

"She actually fell through the fire escape. Thankfully she was able to pull herself up," he said, adding that she was evaluated at the scene, but refused medical aid.

According to the New York City Department of Buildings, the inspector was a private engineer contracted by the building owner for a routine inspection of the façade of the 9-story commercial building.

Law mandatess that a building greater than six stories must submit façade inspection reports to the Department of Buildings every five years.

According to the Department of Buildings, the Façade Inspection Report for that building was last submitted in 2013 and the building's exterior was deemed safe as long as periodic maintenance is performed.

The 2013 report found that the fire escape had no unsafe conditions, according to the Department of Buildings.

The building's owners were issued permits to repair the exterior in 2014. Along with maintenance work on the building façade itself, the permits indicated that the fire escape had to be repainted and minor spot repairs were to be made if any defects were found underneath the paint. But, according to the Department of Building, these repairs are common for older buildings with fire escapes. This repair project was completed in December 2015.

The incident is under investigation.

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