‘potentially catastrophic’ conditions at apartment building

DA looking into ‘potentially catastrophic’ conditions at apartment building


The Allegheny County district attorney’s office is looking into conditions inside of a Wilmerding apartment building.
Vincent Coury, a tenant of Faller Apartments, said he has a crack in the gas line to his stove, a hole in his ceiling and cockroaches.
“Throw us out,” Coury said. “That’s what they want to do because the building is not safe.”
Outside the building, a fire escape has steps missing and there are dozens of other code violations.
In a statement, District Attorney Stephen Zappala said he “is very concerned about the safety of the residents living in that building, and right now we’re considering our options with respect to holding the landlord responsible for conditions that are potentially catastrophic.”
Coury, who has lived in the building for about six months, said he may be forced to move soon.

Fire Escapes Can Save Lives, or Take Them!

Fire Escapes Can Save Lives, or Take Them!
Philadelphia Property Owners Required to File Fire Escape Inspection Reports by July 1st 2017.
The tragic January 12th 2014 fire escape collapse which took the life of one Philadelphia student and severely injured two others when they fell 4 stories while smoking out on a fire escape balcony initiated the City Council’s review of the condition of fire escapes in Philadelphia.  They discovered that an overwhelming majority of fire escapes throughout the city are compromized structurally and have never been maintained since installation.  Most fire escapes are over 50 years old and are also covered in lead paint.  These findings resulted in this requirement:
“The owner of any building with fire escapes or fire escape balconies shall be responsible for retaining a Professional to conduct periodic inspections of the fire escapes and fire escape balconies, and to prepare and file a report on such inspection with the owner. All fire escapes and fire escape balconies must be inspected and the reports submitted by July 1, 2017.
A summary of that inspection must be submitted to the Department of Licenses and Inspections on a form titled: “Summary Inspection Report of Fire Escapes and Fire Escape Balconies”.
The City of Philadelphia’s Property Maintenance Code requires all building owners to maintain their buildings in good repair, structurally sound and sanitary so as to not impose a threat to the public. Additionally, the Fire Code establishes specific requirements for periodic inspections of fire escapes and fire escape balconies and the filing of reports of such inspections. This document serves to inform the public of the method of reporting those inspections to the Department.”
The expert witness in this fire escape collapse case, FranCisco Meneses of the NationalFireEscapeAssociation.org, teaches seminars nationwide to Fire, Building and Housing Officials on Fire Escape Awareness as well as classes on Fire Escape Industry Standards and Procedures and Property Owner Liability.  The condition of fire escapes in Philadelphia are no different to cities throughout the country where fire escape inspection and maintenance codes were non existent or not enforced for 100 years.
“I celebrate the City of Philadelphia’s focus on this public safety issue and the decisive upgrade of these exterior structures. Finally, fire escapes in Philadelphia will save lives instead of take them.” – Cisco Meneses

Deadline to Comply is Fast Approaching

Deadline to Comply with New Fire Inspection Requirements is Fast Approaching

Article from The National Law Review

The deadline to comply with the new inspection requirements mandated by the recent amendment to the Philadelphia fire code is fast approaching.

In the wake of a fire escape collapse in Center City that caused one death and two very serious injuries, the City of Philadelphia reviewed whether to mandate the inspection of fire escapes. Ultimately, the City of Philadelphia enacted a bill that amended Section F-1011.1 of the Philadelphia Fire Code. This amendment requires building owners to conduct very specific inspections of their building’s fire escapes and fire escape balconies. A report of the inspection must be filed with the Department of Licenses and Inspections (“L&I”).

The initial deadline for filing these inspection reports is July 1, 2017. If the construction of the fire escape or fire escape balcony was completed after July 1, 2007, the first inspection must be conducted within ten years after construction of the fire escape or fire escape balcony was completed. For any fire escapes or fire escape balconies that underwent a restoration within one year prior to July 1, 2017, the building owner may apply for an extension of the initial inspection. Thereafter, building owners must file inspection reports every five years following the submission of the initial report.

A “fire escape” is defined by the ordinance as “a system of metal landings, balconies, stairs, or ladders attached to a building that are not classified as an exterior stairway and are intended or designed to aid in egress from a building in an emergency.” A “fire escape balcony” is defined as “a balcony that projects from the building face and is intended for use in conjunction with a fire escape, an exit stair, or an area of refuge.” Given these very broad definitions, care should be taken not to omit any required component from the inspection.

Only a Pennsylvania licensed professional engineer who is experienced in the practice of structural engineering can perform the inspections. The inspection report must reference all conditions of the fire escape and fire balcony including, but not limited to, significant deterioration, movement, and mechanical operations.

If an unsafe condition is found, then the engineer must immediately notify the owner and, within 12 hours of discovery, notify L&I’s Emergency Services Unit. Within 24 hours of receiving notice of an unsafe condition, the owner must take any and all actions necessary to protect public safety. Within 10 days of receiving a report identifying an unsafe condition, the owner must commence remediation of the unsafe condition and work continuously without interruption until the unsafe condition has been corrected.

If the engineer determines that the condition is safe, so long as certain repairs and maintenance are undertaken, then the owner is responsible for complying with the engineer’s instructions within the time frame specified in the inspection report. If the fire escape or balcony is determined to be safe by the engineer, then the engineer shall post upon the fire escape a tag or placard (made of weather-resistant reflective material) that clearly and legibly states the date of the inspection, the date by which a new inspection is required (five years from the last inspection), and the name and contact information of the engineer who conducted the inspection.


Firefighter’s Manoeuvre Ends in Fatal Fall

Firefighter’s Practiced Maneuver, Five Stories Up, Ends in Fatal Fall

William Tolley, a New York City firefighter, died on Thursday after falling from a tower ladder. 
CreditUli Seit for The New York Times

It was a routine operation at a routine apartment-building fire using a piece of equipment that was tailor made for this vertical city.

And yet somehow, a veteran New York City firefighter fell to his death.

The equipment is called a tower ladder. It is a familiar sight, a telescoping ladder mounted atop a fire truck with a walled platform or “bucket” that hoists firefighters up onto roofs and other high places so that they do not have to climb up and down.

On Thursday in Ridgewood, Queens, Firefighter William Tolley, 42, was lifted to the roof of a five-story building in a tower ladder to ventilate the roof and allow smoke and hot gases to escape. One moment, witnesses said, he was in the bucket, suspended near the roof parapet. The next moment, he was plummeting to the street.

The Fire Department and federal officials are investigating the cause of the accident, a process that could take months. But experienced fire officials and equipment experts said the accident underscored the dangers inherent in working high above the street.


Family members of Firefighter Tolley gathered outside Wyckoff Heights Medical Center as his body was taken to the morgue. CreditUli Seit for The New York Times

“For a painter, for a roofer, for a firefighter, leaving a roof and getting to a ladder, whatever type — there’s always the danger of falling,” said Glenn Corbett, an associate professor of fire science at John Jay College.

Still, deaths in falls from ladders remain rare. In 2007, a firefighter in Brooklyn was climbing down a ladder while holding tools in both hands when the heavy saw slung across his back shifted and knocked him off balance, federal investigators found.

A former deputy chief, Charles R. Blaich, said that the most recent firefighter death in New York City that he knew of involving a tower ladder was 40 years ago, in 1977: A firefighter tried to jump from a fifth-floor fire escape of a burning Manhattan building to the bucket of a tower ladder and missed.

The tower ladder had been developed only about 10 years earlier, at the request of John T. O’Hagan, a department chief who eventually became fire commissioner.


A photograph of Mr. Tolley was hung in front of the firehouse of his company, Ladder 135.CreditUli Seit for The New York Times

Professor Corbett said that Chief O’Hagan was inspired by similar devices used by utilities to raise their workers to poles and wires. The Chicago Fire Department was already using a ladder device known as a snorkel that extended like an elbow unbending. Chief O’Hagan wanted a device like the tower ladder instead, because it extended by telescoping, allowing it to work in narrower spaces, Professor Corbett said. Today, 60 of the 143 Fire Department ladder trucks use tower ladders.

In the case of Firefighter Tolley, witnesses have offered differing accounts. Mayer Weber, a former volunteer firefighter in Fallsburg, N.Y., who was working on a construction site near the Queens fire on Thursday, said that he saw Mr. Tolley in the bucket signaling something to the firefighter below on the truck who was controlling the ladder. The door of the bucket was open and the bucket moved.

“It looked like he was trying to get out onto the roof,” Mr. Weber said on Friday. “It’s possible that what might have happened is that the bucket hit the parapet roof, and since he was halfway out of the bucket on his way out, it bounced him right out.”

Also on Friday, fire officials announced the cause of the blaze: religious incense that residents left burning in their second-floor apartment when they left the building.

“Compounding the tragic loss of Firefighter Tolley’s life is that the fire he responded to and fought bravely could have been prevented,” Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said in a statement. “You should not leave objects such as incense or candles burning while unattended.”

Rusty fire escapes could get upgrade in Iowa town

Rusty fire escapes could get upgrade in one eastern Iowa town


By Katie Wiedemann, KCRG-TV9 |

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) — Property owners in Dubuque can get some financial help upgrading aging fire escapes. The city council approved that funding Monday night.

A state law passed in 2015 requires an engineer to inspect all fire escapes at least once every five years.

In Dubuque, there are about 60 buildings with fire escapes, and many of them are as old as the building itself. A third party engineering inspector will check each fire escape for rust and to make sure they are properly anchored to the building.

“For life safety purposes, really it’s our duty to go out to make sure these places are safe because it could be a disaster in times of emergency,” Rick Steines, Dubuque Fire Chief, said.

Dubuque will give a building owner up to five thousand dollars to repair or replace the fire escape.

Residents unite to take on mega-landlord

Jersey City Together held a landlord protest against River Edge / Trendy Management on Sunday, March 26, 2017. The protest met at St Paul’s Episcopal Church and protesters walked over to 205 Monticllo Ave. in Jersey City. Pictured: Rev. Jessica Lambert of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. (Michael Dempsey | The Jersey Journal)

Owner of Jersey City building with rotting fire escape hit with 48 violations

Michaelangelo Conte | The Jersey JournalBy Michaelangelo Conte | The Jersey Journal 
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on June 19, 2015 at 12:54 PM, updated June 19, 2015 at 4:05 PM

The owner of a Jersey City building where a rusted, rotting fire escape snapped beneath the feet of residents fleeing a fire Monday has been slapped with 48 fire code violations, Jersey City officials said.

The owner of 500 Garfield Ave., a management company in Clifton, was cited for failure to properly maintain fire escapes and for obstructing a means of egress due to a fire escape being blocked by a metal gate, Jersey City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill said.

The violations came to light after a 2-alarm fire at the four-story apartment building there at 5 a.m. Monday. Calls to the management company, 500 Garfield Avenue JC LLC, were not returned.

One third-floor resident said he fell through the steps and landed on the fire escape landing a floor below while fleeing the fire. Others said they had to hold onto the fire escape railings and do their best to slide down the fire escape using their feet minimally.

Firefighters responding to the 5:21 a.m. alarm found the fire in a first-floor apartment that spread to an adjacent apartment before being declared under control at 6:01 a.m.

The building owner was also cited for having multiple fire alarms that were either disabled or removed and for having a locked exit door, Morrill said.

Residents of the apartments involved in the fire not able to return due to fire damage, Jersey City pubic safety spokeswoman Carly Baldwin said at the scene that day.

Residents in eight additional apartments were also evacuated because of the lack of a second means of egress due to “the rotting fire escape,” Baldwin said.

2 People Escape

2 People Escape As Fire Tears Through Seekonk Home


SEEKONK (CBS) — Firefighters rushed to rescue the people and pets inside a multi-family home as a blaze ripped through it Tuesday morning.

The fire began around 9:40 a.m. in a three-story home on Hull Street.

seekonk1 2 People Escape As Fire Tears Through Seekonk Home

Several people were displaced and one cat died after a fire tore through a house in Seekonk Tuesday morning. (WBZ-TV)

Two people were inside at the time, but were able to escape the flames.

One told WBZ-TV’s Mike LaCrosse that he used a fire escape to get out safely.

“It was all pretty much just like a quick instinct, ‘I need to get out of here,’” said resident Malcolm Jones.

Fire officials said they rescued six dogs from the home, but unfortunately one cat died.

None of the residents or responding firefighters were hurt, but 4-6 people were displaced. The Red Cross was assisting them.

Crews were still on the scene at noon to put out hot spots.

The cause of the fire was not yet known.




Mike LaCrosse

Fire at multi family home in is now out @cbsboston

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1 feared dead after fire rips through California building


Updated: 11:59 AM EDT Mar 27, 2017
Firefighters rescued at least seven people after a blaze erupted on the top floor of a three-story residential building in West Oakland, California sending towering flames and heavy smoke into the dawn sky.

Fire officials said at least one person was feared dead inside the building that houses a drug rehabilitation center.

Battalion Chief Eric Logan of the Oakland Fire Department said firefighters who entered the structure thought they saw a body on the third floor, but couldn’t reach the person before flames and heavy smoke caused them to pull out of the building.

“When firefighters first went in, they saw what might have looked like a body on the third floor, but the flames were so intense they had to retreat,” Logan said. “We have to get more of this fire out to see.”

About 8 a.m., Logan said the blaze was contained to the building or origin.

“It’s an old building,” he said. “We have to get in to fight the fire.”

The fire broke out just before 6 a.m. at the building off Interstate 980.

Logan said firefighters used ladder trucks to rescued seven people. Three people were treated for smoke inhalation and were in critical condition, he said.

He said 50 to 60 people lived in the building.

Fantazhia LaTonda, 44, one of the residents evacuated, was sitting nearly a block away from the fire huddled under blankets with her boyfriend, watching her home go up in flames.

She had just moved into the building two weeks ago.

She said the first and second floors house a drug rehab center. LaTonda lives in an apartment on the third floor, next door to where she said the fire started.

“I woke up to get a snack and I went to lay back down and I looked out the window and I saw sparks and I kept hearing crackling,” she said.

In a panic, she and her boyfriend attempted to open the door of their room but she said the door handles were too hot to touch. They opened the curtains of their window and began waving outside to get the attention of the firefighters.

“I was scared. I thought I was going to die,” LaTonda said.

The firefighters grabbed them through the window and pulled them onto the fire escape, she said.

She said, everything she owns is gone and now she and her boyfriend have to start from scratch.

“I was worried we weren’t going to get out. Just burning. That’s not the way I want to die. Burning,” she said.

Other residents of the building, joined by family members, were gathered outside an a nearby AutoZone store.

Covered in Red Cross blankets, many people stood watching the building burn with tears in their eyes.

Some shrieked as news came out of the unconfirmed fatality.

Children were clinging to their parents, with no shoes after escaping just in the nick of the time.

Tensions were high as the police attempted to tally the number of people who made it out alive. But many stood solemnly, blank looks on their faces, as they stared at the building.

Three Alarm Fire Rages on Elmora Avenue

Three-alarm fire on Elmora AvenueCredits: Kathy Lloyd

ELIZABETH, NJ – A fire in a six-story multiple dwelling on the 300 block of Elmora Avenue quickly progressed from a two-alarm to a three-alarm fire with one firefighter injured.

At one point, fire was visible and found in the walls before it was extinguished. Occupants were seen on the fire escape directly beneath the fire apartment.

Primary searches were completed and cleared. EMS personnel treated the injured firefighter at the scene. Elizabeth firefighters were assisted with units from Roselle Park, Roselle, Linden, and Union County Hazmat.

Residents rescued

Residents rescued from 2-alarm fire at housing complex

Caitlin Mota | The Jersey JournalBy Caitlin Mota | The Jersey Journal 
on March 22, 2017 at 7:54 AM, updated March 22, 2017 at 7:55 AM

Several residents were rescued from a two-alarm fire at the Marion Gardens housing complex yesterday morning.

The fire ignited in a first-floor bedroom at 23 Dales Ave. at 9:30 a.m., city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill said.

A man in the apartment where the fire started ran from the building but left the unit’s door open. Fire and smoke began filling the hallways, trapping residents on the second and third floors, she said.

Upper-floor residents used a fire escape to get out of the three-story building. The fire escape, however, was connected to the room where the fire began, making it difficult for residents to reach the ground, Morrill said.

One woman at the scene said her entire family, including at least three children, were helped by firefighters on the fire escape.

At least two apartments were damaged. The American Red Cross was assisting an adult and five children with shelter. It’s unclear when other residents will be allowed to return to home.

No one was injured in the fire, although eight people were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, Morrill said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.