Political Roundup: Jonathan Pelto Reportedly Considering Run for Governor / Fire Safety in Hartford

This column appears in the April 24 – May 1 edition of the Hartford News…  Safe Work Environment Act Update: A group of CT corrections officers who filed a racial discrimination lawsuit will hold a press conference on Saturday, May 3rd, 10:00 am on the steps of the State Capitol. Stay tuned…


Last week Neil Vigdor of the Hearst Media Group reported that former legislator and blogger Jonathan Pelto is considering a run for governor. Pelto did not deny the possibility. http://jonathanpelto.com/2014/04/18/saw-internet-must-true/ Hopefully Pelto will enter the race as a third-party candidate. As I have said repeatedly (and will continue to say), Gov. Dannel Malloy vs. likely Republican challenger Tom Foley is a false choice. We need a candidate who will truly represent the interests of the working class, the poor and other vulnerable populations. Malloy is the personification of the Democrats’ habit of taking liberals / progressives for granted, using the specter of the big, bad Republicans as leverage. That’s the way it will be in every election. There never will be a “safe” time for a third-party candidate to emerge. We need an alternative to the 1 1/2 party system. Now…  


Last week members of the Community Party and the Occupy movement spoke at the regular Hartford City Council meeting about fire safety in low income housing. In January a fire on Bedford Street took the lives of four-year-old Shantay Drake and her mother, Susan Therrien. Initial media reports quoted Hartford Fire Department Captain James McLoughlin, who said that firefighters were delayed getting to Shantay’s mother due to security bars on the windows. It was not until CP interviewed McLoughlin for this column that his version of events changed. McLoughlin said his own report was “not accurate”; that the security bars did not hinder firefighters. McLoughlin abruptly cut off the interview when I asked him if he would support an ordinance which would make security bars with a quick release device mandatory. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/the-bedford-street-fire-tragedy-an-interview-with-hfd-captain-james-mcloughlin/  


The Philadelphia Fire Department issued a report in 2007 which found that security bars can trap residents in their homes during a fire, in addition to delaying firefighters’ rescue efforts. The PFD report recommends that any building which has security bars should have two windows equipped with bars that have a quick release device that can be opened from the inside. City council staff members told us that public housing such as the Westbrook Village and Bowles Park housing projects have bars with the quick release device, but when we talked to tenants in these buildings they indicated otherwise. At the very least, public housing tenants need to be educated about fire safety and how to utilize the equipment in their homes.


CP has been pushing for an ordinance that would make the quick release device mandatory in all Hartford homes (city or privately owned) with security bars. Ordinance language that we obtained from city council staff does not specifically refer to security bars; a CP investigation found that several buildings in North Hartford currently have security bars without the quick release device, including the site of the Bedford Street fire. We were told that City Council President Shawn Wooden is now working on strengthening the current ordinance; we will be following up with him in the near future. We also plan to examine the state law regarding security bars. Stay tuned for updates. This week we’ll share the PFD report on security bars. Please share this report with your family, friends and loved ones, especially anyone you know who is currently residing in a home with security bars.     www.phila.gov/fire/pdfs/Security_Bars_and_Lo.pdf     








                                           CITY  OF  PHILADELPHIA        FIRE  DEPARTMENT 240 SPRING GARDEN STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA 19123-2991



                                                 LLOYD AYERS  FIRE COMMISSIONER       (215) 686-1300                       FAX (215) 922-3952  





Fire safety needs to be considered when planning to install security devices in your home.  It is dangerous to install security bars on windows without consideration for escape during a fire.  Due to the fear of crime, some Philadelphians are taking measures to secure their homes against illegal entry.  Unfortunately, these security actions are often taken without consideration for life safety in the event of a fire.  Security bars and double-keyed dead bolts installed without  knowledge of their effects during a fire have too often resulted in occupants being trapped inside a burning home, and have also delayed the rescue efforts of firefighters. 

Rooms used for sleeping below the fourth floor in a one- or two-family residence, apartment building, hotel or personal care home are required, by the Philadelphia Fire Code, to have at least one window that can serve as an Emergency Escape Window, unless the room has access to two exits or the building is sprinklered.  The emergency escape window should open easily, be wide enough to allow escape, and may only have security bars if they are equipped with a quick-release latch that can be easily opened in darkness without a key, special knowledge, or excessive force (see page 2).  In addition, doors locked on the inside should be capable of being opened easily without having to insert a key into the lock (a thumb latch is acceptable) or require special knowledge or excessive force to open the door (see page 3).    Every household should have a smoke detector on each floor and a fire evacuation plan that includes alerting occupants, evacuation to a pre-determined location outside and calling the Fire Department. 


Follow these simple rules in planning escape routes: 1. Identify emergency exits. 2. Make sure everyone in your household can operate locked or barred windows and doors. 3. Where bedroom windows have security bars, make certain that the bars on at least one window open from the inside by a quick release device. 4. Hold home fire drills (twice annually is recommended) to ensure everyone in your household knows how to escape during a fire.  





                                                                                  ACTION ALERT: STOP RACIAL PROFILING IN CONNECTICUT!

We need folks to contact the Judiciary Committee and legislators in your district and urge them to support the Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act amendments during the legislative session. Call and email committee Chair Sen. Eric Coleman http://www.senatedems.ct.gov/Coleman.php and Vice Chair Rep. Matt Ritter http://www.housedems.ct.gov/RitterM/ .  Assemblyman Ritter has supported our bill since we first introduced it in 2010. The contact info for the other committee members can be viewed here. http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/MemberList.asp?comm_code=JUD Identify your legislators by providing your info on this page. http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/CGAFindLeg.asp  You can read our bill language here. https://www.facebook.com/notes/stop-racial-profiling-obey-the-law/community-party-trayvon-martin-act-bill-language/617004948349355



Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines and updates on the status of our Trayvon Martin Act and Safe Work Environment Act, including action alerts. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1  Check out CP’s No Sellout blog for the archive of our Hartford News columns. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/  Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com.



David Samuels


Community Party




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