It’s time the city and state legislature come up with a practical solution to help homeowners renovate these dangerous construction features found in many old row homes throughout the borough of Queens.
A cockloft is a small, sealed space between the top floor beams and pitched roof.
Where it differs from a traditional attic is that often cocklofts are connected in a series of attached homes. A fire doesn’t stop because the building next door has a different address. Rather it spreads, often through weak brick barriers built as a useless safety precautions.
That was the case in Middle Village in 2013 and again in Elmhurst back in April. Both of those destructive fires may have been exacerbated by cocklofts.
Cocklofts need to be eliminated from homes entirely, or fire-proofed by experts with better venting and sprinkler systems.
State Senator Joseph Addabbo’s plan to offer tax credits is the most sensible solution. Residents should be encouraged to seek out a contractor to do the work themselves to ultimately making their homes safer.
This could be a case of the government at its most useful. Helping residents make a serious safety change, then getting out of the way instead of over managing it.
Fortunately most new construction has recognized the potential threat these construction quirks pose, but with so many old homes, cocklofts are still present. It’s time to eliminate that potentially threat.