There is a three-alarm fire in the mall. You are a security guard. What do you do? Well …………..

Workers at the packed Pier 17 mall did not pull the fire alarm during the massive  three-alarm blaze at the the South Street Seaport last Saturday because the  company that owns the building does not have a policy that directs them to do  so, a rep for the landlord said Wednesday.

Howard Hughes Corp., which owns the mall, directs security staff to report  fires to their supervisor and the supervisor to report fires directly to the  FDNY but does not require any of the staff to pull the fire alarm and alert  customers of the need to evacuate, said Michael Piazzola, senior general manager  with Howard Hughes Corp.

Piazzola told a Community Board 1 meeting Tuesday night that the security  workers did not want to confuse firefighters by sounding an additional call for  help through the alarm system after calling 911, according to several people who  attended the meeting.

The three-story pier building also has no public address system, Piazzola  added, so the mall was evacuated by word of mouth alone. The shocking revelation  stunned those who attended the CB1 meeting.

“Thank God nobody got hurt,” John Fratta, chairman of CB1’s Seaport/Civic  Center Committee, said after the meeting. “We were surprised.”

Residents asked Piazzola about the fire alarm after seeing a video  shot from the deck of the Clipper City sailing ship, which was docked at the  eastern tip of the pier as billows of black smoke rose.

In the video, passengers on the ship shouted to sunbathers on the pier’s  upper decks, who were unaware of the fire, yelling, “Get out! Get off!”

Scores of people streamed out of the building Saturday, as an electrical fire  under the pier sent flames and smoke up through the wooden walkway ringing the  pier. No one was hurt in the fire, FDNY officials said.

Piazzola said Wednesday that any security workers could have pulled the fire  alarms, which are located in public areas of the mall, but they were not  required to do so because the company has no policy on when they ought to be  pulled.

Paul Hovitz, another CB1 member, was among those who asked Piazzola Tuesday  night to change the policy and instruct workers to pull the fire alarm any time  there is a fire at Pier 17, not just when the Fire Department needs to be  notified.

While Saturday’s electrical fire was quickly doused, Hovitz worried that a  word-of-mouth alarm would not be good enough in a bigger blaze.

“Had this been a more extensive fire that engulfed more of the wooden decking  around the pier, this could have been a lot more catastrophic,” Hovitz said.

They also asked Piazzola to install a public address system for the  three-story building, which was not required by code when the pier was built in  the 1980s, but is required in new buildings.

Piazzola told the residents that he would consider their concerns, but he  also pointed out that Pier 17 is scheduled to close in early 2013 for two years  of construction, to gut the building and convert it into a high-end shopping  complex with a rooftop performance space. The new building will meet all current  codes, Piazzola said, according to the residents.

“[Piazzola] seemed to be relying on the fact that next year they’re redoing  the pier,” Hovitz said. “But what happens between now and then?”

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