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some afterthoughts

We just learned that the recently wed couple who was tragically trapped inside the stairwell during the fire lived in the apartment right above ours.

It shouldn’t change anything about how one perceives the tragedy but it does. We never met in person but they did write us an extremely nice note when they first moved in to apologize for any possible construction noise. We could sometimes hear their parties, sometimes there was a doggy barking. This is so heartbreaking.

I was thinking yesterday about all the constant fire drills in American schools that teach you literally nothing else than taking the stairs in the event of a fire. Because they make us go through these drills so often since childhood, how can this not become a conditioned response?  Moreover, most people learn to perceive these never-ending school fire drills as super annoying and pretty much useless.

How come modern buildings  — that have all their tenants’ cell phone numbers — do not have a simple emergency notification system?

The only thing I recalled from the fire safety manual when the whole thing started, was that the building was fireproof.  And the 911 operator told me unequivocally to stay inside the apartment and gave some other simple but useful instructions. I feel so sorry and absolutely awful for not having immediately taken these tips onto Twitter and Facebook… That’s the least I could have done.

Another thing is that it is probably much easier to make a decision when you are on your own.  I don’t know how differently I might have behaved as part of a couple, had James been here.  And people who have children probably have an altogether different decision-making algorithm.


Click here to donate to the fund that was set up for our neighbor Michael Todd Cohen who remains in critical condition.


Sign this petition that calls on the New York City Council and mayor Bill de Blasio to introduce & pass a “Stay Or Go” legislature requiring ALL residential high-rise buildings in New York City to install a public address system in emergency stairwells so that FDNY and building management can communicate life-saving information in an emergency situation.



7 comments to some afterthoughts

  • Rachel

    I am so shaken by this, and so sad for the couple. If only they had made the same decision as you. It’s frustrating that something so simple was not known by the all residents. Love to you and James.

    • It’s heartbreaking. There are so many different things that influence our decisions in the time of crisis. In a different situation they might have been right and I might have been wrong… so hard to know when smoke is getting worse. I kept doubting whether I made the right decision.
      Thank you, Rachel.

  • Anna

    I so agree with you. I’m convinced I would have tried to leave, too, and if my kid were with me I might have panicked even more.

  • Javier Morgado

    Hi Feral,
    Thanks for posting for sharing information on the petition I setup and the fund for Michael. I’m one of their really good friends – would love to connect with you offline when you have a minute.
    All the best,

    • Hi Javier,
      Thank you for starting the petition. It is really important. Pretty much everyone who I have talked to since the Strand fire shares the same “I wouldn’t have known what to do” sentiment.
      I just sent you an email with my contact info.

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