The Bronx fire that killed 17 people a year ago today might not have been so deadly if residents had been warned about basic fire safety precautions.

Tenants ranging in age from two to 50 years old perished in the blaze. Many were members of a tight-knit immigrant community from the Gambia who’d called the building home for decades.

FDNY officials later determined that the fire itself didn’t kill any of the victims. Rather it was the noxious black smoke they encountered when they tried to flee through darkened hallways and stairwells of the 19-story building.

An open door in the apartment where the fire started and in the stairwell allowed smoke to spread throughout much of the highrise. And residents had tried to evacuate down the 19 stories through a smokey stairwell rather than staying put, which is the guidance for most residents of fireproof buildings.

Here are some fire department safety lessons from FDNY Capt. Michael Kozo, head of the Fire Safety Education Unit, that could help avoid future tragedies.

Make sure you know if your building is fireproof or not.

A good way to know if you’re building is fireproof or not is whether you have a fire escape. If you have fire escapes, that’s usually a sign your building is not fireproof, and thus you’d have to evacuate if there’s a fire in your building, either down the stairwell or the fire escape. If your building is fireproof and the fire isn’t in your apartment, you may be safest actually remaining inside your apartment and sealing the space under doors or air vents with duct tape or wet towels, while you wait for further instructions from firefighters on site.

“It is usually safer to stay inside your apartment,” Kozo said. “That’s the hard thing that people really struggle with.”

A notice should be posted in your building lobby saying whether or not your building is fireproof. Alternatively, you can ask your super or management company, or check your building’s certificate of occupancy online through the Buildings Department.

Close the door when you leave your apartment if your apartment is on fire.

Apartment doors are supposed to be self-closing, but that mechanism malfunctioned in the Twin Parks building, allowing smoke from the fire that had started on the third floor to quickly spread through the hallway and then up through the stairwell where other doors had been left open. When evacuating a building during a fire, FDNY officials urge people to close as many doors as possible within their own apartment, as well as closing stairwell doors to block smoke from spreading.

“Containing that fire in the apartment is paramount,” Kozo said.

Space heater safety tips

Since the fire, some legislative changes have been put in place at the state and local levels, to require space heaters sold in New York stores to automatically shut off.

If you’re in the market for a new space heater make sure it has the sign of Underwriter Laboratories, or UL, to assure the product has been tested for safety. Home appliances should be plugged into a wall outlet not a power strip or extension cord and kept away from other objects.

“A space heater needs space,” Kozo said, “It shouldn’t be sitting on a stack of papers.”

Nationwide, space heaters are estimated to cause 1,700 fires, cause 80 deaths and injure 160 injuries each year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In New York City, electrical fires consistently cause more injuries and fatalities than space heaters, according to FDNY data.

One final tip from Kozo

Make sure you check the batteries in your smoke detector and have working fire alarms in your home.