Paolillo applauds Senate passage of bill that would require emergency generators at Bella Vista

May 31, 2017

On May 30, a bill that would ensure elderly persons have sufficient backup power in emergencies passed in the Senate. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for further debate.

Senate Bill 772 requires that the owners shall install and maintain one or more emergency power generators capable of providing a minimum of four to 12 hours of sufficient electrical power to (1) each unit for heating, water, lighting and critical medical equipment, and (2) each passenger elevator.

Bella Vista was the site of a major brownout and elevator service failure which trapped nearly 1,000 elderly residents inside the towers with temperatures reaching nearly 100 degrees. Bella Vista is a privately owned multifamily housing project. Many of its buildings are 15 stories in height.

“It is vital that we continue to invest in the safety of our senior citizens. Senate Bill 772 ensures that senior housing establishments will be able to maintain sufficient power during emergencies,” said state Rep. Al Paolillo (D-New Haven). “New Haven is home to Bella Vista, where countless senior residents reside. This bill puts the necessary safeguards in place to minimize any potential health or safety risks seniors may face during emergencies such as heat waves or snowstorms.”

“We saw firsthand the emergency situation precipitated by a power failure at Bella Vista,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven). “Many elderly residents and residents with medical issues - some of whom are dependent on medical equipment - were unable to physically navigate the stairs and exit the building, requiring police and fire personnel to evacuate the residents. This bill will help prevent that type of situation from happening ever again.”

In February, Lt. Rachel Cain of the New Haven Police Department, who responded to the incident at Bella Vista, testified in support of the bill before the Aging Committee. Lt. Cain testified, “One of the reasons this has stayed with me for so long is because I saw, firsthand, the effects this needless uprooting had on hundreds of elderly individuals. Although we cannot protect them from all unpredictable occurrences, we can predict that this will occur again.”