Lloyd family three years later- waiting for justice: Rockland lawmakers call for passage

The horrific fire that destroyed Evergreen Court Home for Adults (the former Bader Hotel) and took the life of volunteer firefighter Jared Lloyd and resident Oliver Hueston in March 2021 has remained very much in the public eye.

A 15-year veteran of the Columbian Firehouse, the lieutenant’s public funeral service at Clover Stadium drew dozens of fire companies and First Responders from across the region and beyond. Among the many tributes and accolades received, Lloyd was honored at the White House, where his mother, Sabrail Davenport, and Lloyd’s two sons, Darius and Logan, received the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor from President Joseph Biden.

Since the 2021 inferno, firefighters, police, and EMS across the region, as well as CUPON (Citizens United to Protect Our Neighborhoods) have continued to keep the issue of public safety in the news. Lloyd’s mother became an ardent advocate for fire safety and is now involved with the National Fallen Firefighters Association, where she continues to advocate for those killed in the line of duty.

In September 2023, a brouhaha erupted when the two men responsible for the blaze that destroyed the decrepit facility received what many consider a slap on the wrist: Rabbi Nathaniel Sommer and his son, Aaron, only received probation. The fireman’s family is hopeful their civil lawsuit will provide for the future of Lloyd’s two young sons.

“Something needs to be done,” said Johnson. “These tragic deaths could have been avoided if people obeyed the law.”

On Friday, March 15, County Executive Ed Day and Legislative leaders from the county and Albany introduced a series of nine bills that would aid municipalities in enforcing fire/code enforcement laws.

“New York State prides itself in being Number #1 in many categories, but we are now Number #1 in the worst category possible, said James Hartwick, a Commissioner with the Nyack Fire Department and Legislative Committee Head of the Rockland County Firefighters Association. “A lot of this is promulgated by the lack of code enforcement.”

Over the past decade, Rockland has been plagued by fire safety issues. The bills, if passed, will give local officials the tools they need to enforce building and safety codes across the region, which continues to be plagued by illegal construction practices, as well a growing number of single-family homes being used to house dozens of migrant workers.

The package of bills announced on Friday could create new tools for the enforcement of existing codes and add additional resources for emergency responders including:

-The establishment of the felony crimes of reckless endangerment of an emergency service person in the first and second degrees.

– Authorizing municipalities in the county of Rockland to add unpaid housing code violation penalties, costs and fines to such municipalities’ annual tax levy.

– Increasing benefits for volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance workers.

– Enhancing 911 – Communication enhancements by increasing state grant and reimbursements to $100 million for development, consolidation, or operation of public
safety communications systems.

– Adding the requirement that if the Secretary of State (SOS) is notified that a municipality is not providing administration & enforcement of the Uniform Fire Prevention & Building Code that complies with minimum standards the SOS may investigate & conduct hearings into alleged failure of local code enforcement. This proposal essentially codifies what SOS did in Spring Valley.

A full list of the proposed legislation can be found in this week’s County Executive Coroner on Page 2.

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