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The Association of Structural Fires With Heating Complaints and Race in New York City.

  • Stanton, Eloise1
  • Biedry, Julia2
  • Rochlin, Danielle3
  • Sheckter, Clifford3, 4
  • 1 Department of Surgery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA.
  • 2 Solution Engineer, Tableau Software, a Salesforce Company, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA.
  • 3 Department of Surgery, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA 94305, USA.
  • 4 Regional Burn Center, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, San Jose, CA 95128, USA.
Published Article
Journal of burn care & research : official publication of the American Burn Association
Publication Date
Nov 02, 2023
DOI: 10.1093/jbcr/irad138
PMID: 37718559


The devastating fire on January 9, 2022, led to the death of 8 children and 9 adults in New York City's Bronx borough. Previous reports have suggested that heating complaints in low socioeconomic Black/Latinx communities are frequently ignored. This trend suggests the existence of housing inequities and landlord negligence, which may lead to higher rates of residential fires in the Bronx and other low-income neighborhoods. However, this assertion has yet to be scientifically investigated. Two datasets (New York City Open Data Portal Fire Incident Dispatch and 311 Heat/Hot Water Complaints) were merged to determine the frequency of heating complaints and structural fires per month among community districts in New York City between 2017 and 2022. The primary outcome was structural fires per month which was modeled using a mixed effects multivariable regression allowing random intercepts for individual community districts. Within New York City's 59 community districts, 3,877 heating complaints were filed against 3,989 structural fires during the study period. The mixed effects model demonstrated a significant relationship between heat complaints and frequency of structural fires (coefficient 0.013, 95% confidence interval 0.012-0.014, P < .001). For the decennial census year 2020, the mixed effects model demonstrated a significant association between heat complaints and proportion of non-Hispanic, Black residents (coefficient 0.493, 95% confidence interval 0.330-0.657, P < .001). This highlights a trend in marginalized racial/ethnic communities, where unresolved heating complaints may force residents to resort to dangerous heating practices, inadvertently leading to fires and morbidity/mortality. © The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Burn Association. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected].

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