“Disasters are avoided because of the job my co-workers and I do”

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Odell Horton, Fire Protection Inspector, Local 2507     Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera

People never really think about the tragedies that don’t happen and the lives that aren’t put at risk. Disasters are avoided because of the job my co-workers and I do as Fire Protection Inspectors. New York City is constructing some of the tallest buildings in the world, and we make sure those buildings are up to all safety standards. This helps incidents from happening, and also means that if there ever is an emergency such as a fire, our uniformed Firefighters in the FDNY can safely do their job and save lives. We are at an all-time low for deaths caused by fires right now.

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I have always had an interest in public safety. Before joining the FDNY over 22 years ago, I was a journeyman plumber by trade. As a plumber, we protect the health of the nation. Transitioning into a role protecting the residents of New York City from potentially devastating events has been extremely rewarding. Every day I go into buildings and I have to know everything about that particular location to guarantee all of the systems, including elevators and standpipes, are in place to keep people safe.

After the heartbreaking events of 9/11, we were asked to help develop the Emergency Action Plan, which was designed to evacuate occupants of high-rise office buildings, like the World Trade Center towers were, in the event of an explosion, natural disaster, or any other life-threatening situation. The EAP makes sure that people are prepared if catastrophe strikes, making it invaluable as a life-saving measure.

Recently, I was offered a promotion to a role in management. I turned it down. Being in uniform as a Fire Protection Inspector is already a prestigious job to me. I like being out around the city, interacting with the public and building developers. Sometimes people are confused and have questions regarding structures they are building, the use of hazardous materials, or even safely watching displays such as the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular and the weekly Friday night summertime fireworks on Coney Island. The public comes to us with their concerns, and we provide answers that just might save a life from being put in jeopardy.

— Joseph Lopez

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