Man injured in fall from fire escape in Pilsen

Sun-Times file photo

A man was injured in a fall from a fire escape Tuesday morning in the Pilsen neighborhood on the Near West Side.

About 10 a.m., the 39-year-old man was working on the first-floor fire escape in the 1800 block of South Blue Island when it detached from the building and he fell, according to Chicago Police.

Source: Chicago News By Jordan Owen @byjordanowen 11/21/2017, 03:54pm

County examines expensive, dangerous fire escape

One of the fire escapes at the Wapello County Courthouse goes to the third-floor main courtroom. Tests revealed the staircase is not safe.

OTTUMWA — There are ways to leave the courthouse during a fire. Just don’t flee by the fire escape — it isn’t safe.

The metal stairs outside several Wapello County Courthouse windows may be starting to pull away from that outer wall. Testing should be done every five years, a fire escape salesman and inspector from Ohio said. That was news to the county supervisors.

“I asked the fire department, and they’d never heard of it either,” said the current Wapello County Board of Supervisor’s chairman, Jerry Parker. “But it is a law. And we also want our courthouse to be safe.”

The test went poorly. These stairs are required to support 800 pounds. The fire escapes failed.

“I wouldn’t trust them to support me,” said Parker.

One way to get out to the fire escape is through a door you may have seen (it looks like a window, Parker said) in the main courtroom. There’s an exit sign right in front of it. But besides not trusting the outside metal stairs, law enforcement told the county that providing an easy access escape route in the courtroom where felony trials take place might not be a good idea.

“Really, I think they were worried someone was going to come in that way and hide a gun,” he said.

So that door had already been locked. But a brief examination of the outside of the courthouse shows multiple entry points onto the flawed fire escape. Each has an exit sign by it. None should be used. Which prompts another question: Should those signs be removed, or is that illegal?

This doesn’t mean the board automatically needs to put in new fire escapes. Since the sprinklers have been repaired, supervisors discussed, perhaps the regular steps could be the emergency exit. They’ll need some guidance on rules and what will be safest: For example, fire code may require there to be two ways to escape a burning structure.

An engineer and an architect patrolled the courthouse recently.

“They did a final walk around,” said Parker. “They’ve talked to the state fire marshal’s office and will talk to the fire department here. We should have an answer in about a week.”

Obviously, new fire escapes hadn’t figured into the budget. The estimate said a new fire escape will cost $250,000 for one. The courthouse currently needs two. What it needs to be safe during an emergency could be discussed as soon as the next supervisors’ meeting.

Source: Ottumwa Courier, contact reporter Mark Newman at or visit his Twitter page, @CourierMark.

Hamilton Heights fire engulfs roof of apartment building, injures nine, officials say

A fire in Hamilton Heights reached at least five alarms on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, the FDNY said. (Credit: @KevinClamato via Twitter)

A fire that heavily damaged a Hamilton Heights apartment building Friday, displacing residents and sending a massive plume of smoke into the sky, is finally under control Saturday morning.

The six-alarm fire broke out at 565 W. 144th St., near Broadway, just before 3:15 p.m., according to fire officials. High winds caused the rapid spread of the flames through the top floor of the building.

It was brought under control as of 9 a.m. Saturday, an FDNY spokeswoman said.

Roughly 255 firefighters and paramedics responded to the scene, according to the FDNY.

Seven firefighters suffered minor injuries, according to the agency. One civilian and one police officer also suffered from smoke inhalation. At least four people were taken to area hospitals.

The American Red Cross of Greater New York is helping 20 families, including 44 adults and nine children, who were displaced by the fire. The organization set up a reception center Friday night at PS 153, located at 1750 Amsterdam Ave., where more than 40 people had access to hot meals, a spokesman said in an emailed statement.

“Throughout the night Red Cross workers provided housing and support for essentials (food, clothing, personal care needs, medication, etc.),” the spokesman added. “We will continue to provide long term support as the families begin the recovery process.”

One tenant remains unaccounted for and may have been inside the building when the fire broke out, FDNY Chief James Leonard said at a press conference held Saturday morning.

“At this point, we are going to reenter the building under safe conditions … to search and see if that person is up in the building,” Leonard said.

At the height of the fire, its billowing smoke plume could be seen from across the Hudson River, social media posts show. One woman tweeted a video showing the smoke rising into the sky from her office window on 137th Street.

Syndee Winters, an actress who lists “Hamilton: The Musical” under her credits, tweeted a Periscope video from across the street that shows pieces of flaming debris falling to the ground as firefighters doused the building with water from the buckets of ladder trucks.
The six-story building has 50 units and was built in 1920, according to the real estate listing firm StreetEasy. Official from the city’s Department of Buildings will visit the scene Saturday to determine whether the entire structure should come down, Leonard said at the press conference.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

By AM NEW YORK. Lauren Cook and Nicole Levy, November 18, 2017

Man found on fire escape with bag of burglary tools: Cops

By Caitlin Mota
The Jersey Journal

JERSEY CITY — A 27-year-old man was found climbing a fire escape with a backpack full of burglary tools in Downtown, authorities said.

Casey Collado was arrested on Wednesday after a brief foot pursuit with plain clothes officers, a police report of the incident indicates.

At about 12:20 a.m., police were called to Wayne Street on reports of a man on the second floor fire escape of the building. The officers found Collado trying to climb a nearby fence when they arrived, the report states.

Police told him to stop and he refused. The officers called for backup and Collado was arrested on Christopher Columbus Drive a short time later, authorities said.

Collado was carrying two crowbars, a hammer, and a screwdriver in his backpack. Police also found nine credits cars, a hospital ID card, and a drivers license, the report states.

He was charged with criminal trespassing, possession of burglary tools, and resisting arrest.

Source: Caitlin Mota may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @caitlin_mota. Find The Jersey Journal on Facebook.

Massive party in Denton ends with floor collapsing into apartment below

A jam-packed apartment party in Denton ended abruptly Sunday morning when the floor went crashing into the apartment below.

The incident was caught on video from multiple angles. People at the party, many of them UNT students, had to crawl from the empty second-floor apartment, back to the third. Somehow, injuries were minor.

Videos show water spewing from broken pipes as people climb over beams and plywood to escape.

It could’ve been life or death for Carley Carroll, who lives in that second-floor apartment below the party. Carroll and her three roommates, all sophomores at the University of North Texas, were not home at the time. They were at the Denton Police Department, making a noise complaint just before 2 a.m.

“I have nowhere to go. Everything I own is in there,” said Carroll. “That’s life-threatening. If we were in our living room, we wouldn’t have made it out because by what we’ve seen, it’s just completely gone.”

Carroll and her roommates are not the only ones affected. Fifty other residents are also displaced.

“People gotta grab their wallets, keys, backpacks because we have school tomorrow,” said Trent Blackburn.

Police estimate there were 100 people at the party. Carroll says that’s typical; she’s called the cops on the partygoers before.

“We’ve called and said, ‘It looks like the ceiling is going to cave in,’ so I feel like with us saying that, there could’ve been more that was done,” said Carroll.

Denton Police are working to confirm the previous noise complaints. Police say those type of calls are low priority in nature and people have usually left the party by the time officers arrive.

This incident was upgraded to a possible mass casualty incident. There is now an investigation into the structural failure. Students affected by this say both the apartment management and the university have helped secure places for them to stay, mostly in hotels or dorms and food.

Students who live on the first floor said they’re still dealing with the effects of the collapse. One girl said a bathtub from an upper floor fell into her closet on Monday.

While other people started recording pandemonium at the party, Mickey Hicks’ military training kicked in.

“I just see water spraying everywhere from the plumbing,” he recalled. “People were yelling, screaming. Just trying to find a way to out.”

The 22-year-old was among the 100 partygoers inside this apartment when he felt the floor shaking.

“I like to use common sense. There were too many people jumping. We’re on the third floor. You could feel it,” he said. “I took three steps. Heard chaos and screaming. I was like, ‘I bet you the floor just fell in.'”

Hicks turned back around, opened the door and started reaching for arms.

“I think the military really taught me that,” he said.

Hicks just got out of the Army and says he’ll soon start school at UNT. He guesses he pulled 30 people who were cut and bleeding but not seriously injured.

A spokesman for the complex said structural engineers have been examining the building. Until they get a report, the complex doesn’t know if the damage is repairable or not.

The apartment complex says it will give residents seven days of rent credited to them. Denton Police and Fire are no longer investigating it, but it could progress as a civil matter.

Carroll says fake fundraising pages have been set up by people pretending to be her and her roommates, hoping to take advantage of their situation. They are asking people not to donate to those fundraisers.

Source: Staff POSTED: NOV 12 2017 10:01PM CST VIDEO POSTED: NOV 13 2017 09:45PM CST UPDATED: NOV 13 2017 09:49PM CST


Fire Escape Plans For Apartments

Two big fires at two apartment complexes destroy people’s lives this past weekend, but no one died.

One happened in Starkville and the other in Vernon, Alabama.

It was a close call for residents, but it’s why firefighters say you should have an escape plan.

You might think living in an apartment would mean you need a different escape plan than a house, but that’s not necessarily true.

Firemen say all fires have similarities and both places have similar escape routes.

Most apartment complexes have one common stairwell through the middle of the building with units on each side.

Some residents wonder how they would escape if the stairs were ever cut off by fire or falling debris.

“I think until it happens to you, maybe you don’t even, you know, think about it at all,” says Laura Emelio.

Emelio has been living on the second floor of Franklin Apartments in Columbus, for five months.

It’s the first time she’s lived on a top floor and now, she also has to worry about Luna.

“This is the only way out, so you know, if the fire was coming up through the stairs, I would have to jump out through the window or something, because you know, this is the only exit.”

Starkville Fire Marshal Mark McCurdy says whether you live in an apartment or a home, there’s always two ways out to escape a fire.

“Obviously, your first way out is going to be through your main entrance, whatever that is, your front door if you will, and typically your second way out is a window, a bedroom window, or something of that nature.”

McCurdy says once you get to a window, try to let someone know where you are.

“Try to get a fireman’s attention, you know, maybe hang a sheet out of the window, throw something, even throw something out of the window just to get somebody’s attention, so if there’s time, then they can put up a ladder or some sorts like that, and climb up and get you down safely.”

McCurdy tells residents if there’s no time, they need to jump and try to land on anything that could soften the fall.

“I have heard to try and roll into it. That is something I have heard about, you know, when you are jumping, to try and not catch it all on your feet, so I guess that’s what I would do,” says Emelio.

McCurdy suggests to buy a throw over fire escape ladder if you live on a second story or higher.

Source: WBCI, Missouri

That Flowerpot on the Fire Escape Could Be a Killer

Oct. 24, 2017 — Ignore house rules and city and state laws at your peril.

Ah, the perils and pitfalls of cooperative living. A shareholder in a co-op in Morningside Heights possesses a green thumb, evidenced by the flourishing potted plants on his window ledges and fire escape. When he waters his plants, alas, the runoff streams down the wall, across windows, and into the apartment of his downstairs neighbor. This aggrieved neighbor spoke to the man with the green thumb, and he wrote letters to the managing agent and co-op board, but the water keeps coming. Is this right, or fair?

“No one should be using a fire escape for the storage or placement of any items, including plantings,” attorney Mark Hakim of Chaves & Perlowitz tells the Ask Real Estate column in the New York Times. “It is a matter of health and safety.”

It’s also against the co-op’s house rules, and it violates city and state laws governing fire safety, which state that all means of egress, such as stairwells and fire escapes, must be kept free of obstructions. As for the flowerpots on the window ledge, if one of them should fall, it could injure or kill a passerby, which is why the co-op’s house rules forbid flowerpots on window ledges.

So what’s the aggrieved shareholder to do? Write another letter to the board and to the managing agent, advises Hakim, demanding that the board “take this matter seriously.” The shareholder might also call 311 to report the blocked fire escape. If a city inspector finds a fire hazard, the building would likely be issued a violation. In such situations, shareholders should press the board to act before the building gets fined, which will cost all shareholders. However, a ticket would certainly get management’s attention. Then again, so would a dead body on the sidewalk in front of the building, sprawled next to a shattered flowerpot and a lovely but deadly geranium.

Source: The Habitat – Building Operations


Volume 21 – Number 10

Remote Inspections
On the heels of a white paper written and presented by the Building Code Development Committee and a recent article in the NFPA Journal, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standards Council is in receipt of a New Project Initiation Request for the development of an ANSI Accredited Standard to establish protocols and practices for the use of remote inspections of existing buildings, buildings under construction, and building systems for code compliance. Technologies for remote inspections include video, photographs, data submission, and other technologies as they become available. The standards are envisioned to be utilized/adopted by jurisdictions seeking to increase efficiencies, cost, time and resources required for inspections while improving safety for inspectors performing inspection duties. If standards development is approved by the Standards Council, the standard may additionally call for effective contamination control of other foreign matter residue.

NFPA is currently soliciting comments to gauge whether support exists for standards development addressing remote inspections of existing buildings, buildings under construction, and building systems. NFPA specifically seeks input on the following:

1. Are you, or your organization, in favor of the development of a new standard establishing protocol and practices for remote inspections of existing buildings, buildings under construction, and building systems?

2. Please state your reason(s) for supporting or opposing such standards development.

3. Are you or your organization interested in applying for membership on the Technical Committee if standards development is approved by the Standards Council? If yes, please submit an application, in addition to your comments in support of the project, online at: Submit online application*

*Note: Applications being accepted for purposes of documenting applicant interest in committee participation. Acceptance of applications by NFPA does not guaranty or imply the Standards Council will ultimately approve standards development activity on this proposed subject matter.

Please submit all comments, in support or opposition, to standards development for remote inspections as describe, by December 15, 2017 at:

Grenfell: RIBA demands sprinklers and fire escapes for new and refurbished homes

The RIBA has called for sprinklers to be fitted to all new and refurbished homes and has demanded extra fire escapes in its response to the Grenfell Tower fire

In its submission this week to the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety led by Judith Hackitt, the institute called for every new multiple-occupancy residential building of more than three storeys to have more than one vertical means of escape.

The RIBA also demanded sprinklers in all new and refurbished residential buildings – as is already the law in Wales – and called for the scrapping of the ‘desk-top’ study approach to demonstrating compliance with regulation B4 on external fire spread.

The RIBA has asked too for ‘clearer, prescriptive and design process-driven guidance’ in approved document B and that external walls of buildings more than 18m high should be constructed of non-combustible (European class A1) materials only.

Hackitt’s call for evidence was launched in July following the tragic fire in the west London high-rise block which claimed the lives of around 80 people.

Studio E Architects designed a £10 million refurbishment of the west London tower block, completed in 2016. The construction work included the installation of Reynobond PE cladding over PIR insulation boards – a system that has come under intense scrutiny for the way it appeared to speed up the spread of the fire up the outside of the building.

Documents seen by the BBC and The Times in the summer appear to show that the fireproof zinc cladding specified in Studio E Architects’ original 2012 planning application was effectively downgraded to a cheaper aluminium panelling system to save around £300,000.

The RIBA urged the review team to also ‘give significant consideration to the impact of procurement decisions and allocation of project responsibilities on project quality and safety, and the role of clients in ensuring independent scrutiny of construction work’.

Jane Duncan, former RIBA president and chair of the RIBA Expert Advisory Group on Fire Safety, said that while the group welcomed the chance to submit evidence to the review, it felt the remit could have been ‘more comprehensive, addressing the details of Building Regulations guidance as well as the broader regulatory system.’

She said: ‘The review should cover all building types and construction methods; not just those relating to high-rise, multiple occupancy residential buildings. In addition to submitting evidence, the RIBA has also proposed a number of significant recommendations to the review, to enhance the future fire safety of buildings for all residents and users.’

The RIBA’s initial detailed recommendations:

R1 Repeal of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, under which building owners undertake their own fire risk assessment, and the reintroduction of mandatory fire certificates for designated premises, based on independent inspections by the fire brigades, with statutory powers of entry to individual dwellings where necessary.

R2 An enhanced role for the fire brigades in assisting Building Control authorities in the fire risk assessment of Building Regulations Full Plans Applications for works involving higher risk buildings that will require mandatory fire certificates.

R3 Review of the ‘stay put’ policy in high-rise, multiple occupancy residential buildings, first introduced in British Standard Code of Practice CP3: Chapter IV (1962) Part 1: Fire Precautions in flats and maisonettes over 80ft (24m) in height. For new buildings, the RIBA has a preference for simultaneous evacuation, or phased/staged fire alarm systems, alternative means of escape options, and increased escape stair widths.

R4 Introduction of a Building Regulations requirement for central fire alarm systems, with phased /staged capabilities, in multiple occupancy residential buildings.

R5 Removal of the ‘desk-top’ study approach to demonstrating compliance with Regulation B4.

R6 Introduction of requirements for sprinklers/automatic fire suppression systems in all new and converted residential buildings, as currently required under Regulations 37A and 37B of the Building Regulations for Wales, or at least for residential buildings over three storeys in height.

R7 Introduction of a requirement for more than one means of vertical escape from new multiple-occupancy residential buildings of more than three storeys in height, and no use of compensatory features for the omission of a staircase or alternative means of escape.

R8 Review of the requirements for natural and mechanical smoke vent/exhaust provisions to corridors, lobbies and stairs to ensure current performance capacities are sufficient.

R9 Development of clearer, prescriptive and design process-driven guidance in Approved Document B, written in plain language with straightforward diagrams. Any test-based solutions to be based on full-scale fire testing and not use desktop studies.

R10 External walls of buildings over 18m in height to be constructed of non-combustible (European class A1) materials only. (The independent review should also give detailed consideration to much greater restriction on the use of combustible materials and materials of limited combustibility in external wall construction more generally.)
Extra recommendations

The RIBA added that the independent review should also make recommendations in regard to ensuring the fire safety of the UK’s existing stock of high-rise, multiple occupancy residential buildings, and recommends:

R11 Retrofitting central fire alarm systems in existing residential buildings over 18m in height.

R12 Retrofitting sprinklers/automatic fire suppression systems to existing residential buildings over 18m in height, and perhaps extended to all existing residential buildings above three storeys in height.

R13 Consideration of the construction of alternative vertical means of escape, or escape safe havens/refuges, for residential buildings over 18m in height when there is currently only one staircase.

R14 For new refurbishment projects involving ‘material alterations’ to high-rise, multiple-occupancy residential buildings, the retrofitting of central fire alarm systems and sprinklers/automatic fire suppression systems should be mandatory. This could be structured on a similar basis to the ‘consequential improvements’ required under Part L of the Building Regulations to the energy performance of existing buildings where they are subject to renovation and/or extension.
The development of new materials and methods of construction and constantly evolving knowledge about the fire performance of buildings means that fire regulation needs to be regularly updated. The lack of a periodic timetable for updating of the Building Regulations Approved Documents, which has allowed review of Approved Document B to be almost indefinitely delayed, is highly problematic.

R15 The RIBA proposes that a formal, predetermined programme for review of key Approved Documents should be adopted, as is the case with the Australian National Building Code. The CDM Regulations (Health and Safety) are reviewed every five years.

Principal designer recommendations

Consideration should be given to the adoption of the ‘principal designer’ and ‘principal contractor’ roles set out in the CDM Regulations 2015, with regard to ensuring so far as is reasonably practicable the health, safety and welfare, including fire safety, of those constructing, maintaining and demolishing buildings, within new regulation to also encompass ensuring the fire safety of building users. The ‘principal designer’ should have powers during the design and any ‘contractor design’ periods of projects to enable safe design and construction. This will need greater level of approvals and inspection by building control officers and independent clerks of works/site architects. The ‘principal contractor’ role should have a greater responsibility to work collaboratively with the fire brigades, client and ‘principal designer’ to achieve these fire safety objectives. Such a regulatory framework could include:

During construction: Building Inspections conducted formally by the principal designer, principal contractor and the building control officer, and recorded in writing by the principal contractor that the building is constructed in accordance with the approved plans, relevant Building Regulations and codes of practice.

Before the issue of the Final Certificate: The Principal Contractor confirms, in writing to the principal designer, that the works to any building have been built in accordance with the approved plans, relevant Building Regulations, codes of practice, fire and HSE legislation.

The Final Certificate: Cannot be issued until this written confirmation has been received by the principal designer.
Regulation 38: The principal designer shall give all the fire safety information critical to life safety in and around the building.

H&S File: These statements are to be recorded in the H&S File for the life of the building until its demolition.

The full RIBA response to the call for evidence can be downloaded here.


Man injured after jumping out third floor window to escape fire

Man injured after jumping out third floor window to escape fire. Gray Hall reports during Action News at 9 a.m. on October 14, 2017. (WPVI)

ABC6 – FRANKFORD (WPVI) — A man was injured after jumping from a third floor window to escape a fire in Philadelphia’s Frankford section.

Firefighters were called around 7:30 a.m. Saturday to the 4600 block of Leiper Street for a small fire inside an apartment.

When they arrived on the scene, firefighters found the victim suffering multiple injuries from the jump.

There is no word on the victim’s condition.

Firefighters are still investigating what sparked the blaze.

Sunday, October 15, 2017 07:16AM