New York City has unleashed its latest weapon to combat the recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which is the New York Fire Department.
According to the New York Daily News, the recent outbreak is believed to have caused by contaminated rooftop cooling towers in the Bronx. The Legionella bacteria was sprayed out in the cooling tower mist, and then presumably got inhaled into the lungs of passersby below.
Thousands of firefighters joined the 150 fire inspectors from the Bureau of Fire Prevention, who had been dispatched by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
With more than 45,000 potential rooftops to check, the Mayor’s office ordered more personnel to join the effort by deploying FDNY firefighters.
The fire inspectors and firefighters have a list of all the buildings in the city that use central air conditioning and heat units. The buildings are supposed to have rooftop cooling towers like the one believed to have contaminated the victims in the Bronx.
The firefighters and fire inspectors are working around the clock to create an accurate map of which buildings have the systems, which was one of the reasons for the rapid deployment of all FDNY field personnel.
In an attempt to stop the disease from spreading, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation on Tuesday, aimed at regulating the towers.
The newly passed law requires building landlords to register, inspect and regularly clean cooling towers. They are also required to get an annual certification. Failure to comply with the law is punishable by fines of up to $25,000.
In a news interview, Mayor de Blasio said, “NYC’s bravest are doing what they do best — tackling a huge task with precision and tireless energy. Identifying the location of the city’s cooling towers could literally save lives.”
Right now, each firehouse in the city has a list of buildings in its specific area that are likely to have a cooling tower and everyone is working as fast as possible to canvass their areas.
In a released statement, the FDNY stressed that none of its members were cleaning the cooling towers or testing the contents, they are currently merely doing “line of sight inspections.”
Since the Bronx outbreak, 12 people died and 127 were sickened.