Amidst rising instances of both residential and business fires in the area over the past few years, Councilmember Jen Gutiérrez (who serves the 34th district, covering parts of Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Ridgewood) compiled a Residential Fire Emergency Response Guide to encourage more widespread preparedness and education within the community and throughout greater NYC.

The guide includes forms and resources helpful to those experiencing displacement as a result of a fire, a list of steps to take when navigating damage (the first is to always take photos!), facts about tenants’ rights, and organizations offering food and clothing assistance.

Here’s the full list of steps to take if displaced and impacted by a fire:

  1. Take pictures of everything in your home. Any space you can access and every item should be photographed for any future claims and the ability to inventory what’s been damaged..
  2. If you have renters’ insurance, file your claim and alert the insurer about your
    situation, so they can provide the benefits you’re entitled to. Confirm with your insurer if you need to provide any additional written notice as described in your policy in order to access your coverage and loss of use benefits.
  3. Call your gas and electricity providers to suspend service (contact info provided).
  4. In the coming days and weeks, workers and inspectors will need access to your home. Given that you may not be living nearby, this may be difficult to coordinate. Purchasing a lockbox for your door with a spare set of keys inside and a phone number to call for the code will be helpful in moving the work forward without having to be physically present. You can also request that the building management or their insurer purchase or reimburse you for this lockbox.
  5. If you did not connect with Red Cross immediately following the fire, you have 14 days from the incident to register with the Red Cross. You will need to verify you lived in the residence that you were displaced from.

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