Fixing Philly: L&I looks to create database of safe fire escapes


In an effort to ensure safety in case of an emergency, the Dept. of L&I is looking to crowdsource info in order to create a database of fire escapes throughout the city.

During a birthday party at an apartment in a Rittenhouse Square building in January of 2014, 22-year-old Albert Suh, of Leonia, N.J., and two female friends, both in their twenties, stepped out onto a fire escape on the fourth floor of the 108-year-old building.

The rusty fire escape collapsed under the three, killing Suh and severely injuring the two women.

According to Karen Guss, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections, this tragedy was wholly preventable if only the building’s fire escape had been inspected and was up to code.

“That fire escape came right off the wall and then crashed down forty feet,” Guss said of the fatal incident. “That opened a lot of people’s eyes, especially here at L&I, that really, no one had been checking the safety of these things.”

And, now, L&I is asking local residents to help prevent future tragedies by working to create an online database of all fire escapes in the city, that would allow L&I to verify each fire escape as either being up to code or needing inspection.

“One thing we knew would be a challenge in this city is that we don’t have a database for fire escapes,” she said in an interview Thursday. “If we don’t know where fire escapes are, how are we going to make sure they are safe?”

In order to identify all fire escapes in the city, L&I has set up an online page, here, that allows residents to provide information about any fire escape in the city and even share photos of the fire escape. Guss said that with each submission, L&I will check to see if the fire escape is in the database already, if it has been inspected and is up to code or if they need to sent an inspector out to the fire escape to check it out.

The entire process is anonymous, and she said, if a renter has a concern about a fire escape on their building, they can simply provide information and an inspector will check it, they wouldn’t need to contact their landlord for approval and the landlord wouldn’t be told if their tenant alerted L&I.

“It’s super easy. If you see a fire escape, just click on where it is and take a picture,” she said.

Guss said that the fire escape initiative follows a 2016 City Council bill that was intended to make sure property owners are held accountable for the condition of the fire escapes connected to their buildings, to ensure they are safe in case of an emergency.

Already, L&I has had 132 properties reported through the website app, though they don’t know just how many fire escapes there are in total throughout the city.

Guss said she hopes this program helps to answer that question.

“Then, once it’s in our database, it will be mapped, matched with what we know about the property and we will have a report and enforcement can begin.”

Also, if a resident has concerns about a fire escape on their property, the can put its info in the L&I’s online app and they will be able to find out the status of the fire escape, if it has been inspected or not.

“Hopefully, your landlord already did everything great. But, if not, we will come check it out,” said Guss.

To input a fire escape into L&I’s online database, click here. You can also see a map of all the fire escapes throughout the city that L&I has already identified.

Source: Hayden Mitman Metro US http://www.metro.us/news/local-news/philadelphia/fixing-philly-li-looks-to-create-database-safe-fire-escapes
Published : August 28, 2017 | Updated : August 28, 2017

Police: Man broke into Schenectady ex’s apartment via fire escape

He faces felony, misdemeanor counts.


SCHENECTADY — A man broke into a city woman’s residence last weekend and violated an order of protection, authorities said.

Dennis Wohlleber, 27, of Harrison Avenue, Schenectady, faces one count of second-degree burglary, a felony, and second-degree criminal contempt, a misdemeanor.

Wohlleber is accused of breaking into a Monroe Street apartment Saturday morning by climbing up a fire escape and into a window, and broke an order of protection related to an ex-girlfriend, according to papers filed in court.

Source: Steven Cook Daily Gazzette August 17, 2017

Philadelphia’s L&I Needs Your Help Locating City Fire Escapes

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections is asking for your help in a public safety campaign. It’s trying to track down every fire escape in the city.

City Council passed a law, last year, requiring building owners to get every fire escape on their property inspected. L&I spokesperson Karen Guss says the department received 400 reports by the July 1st deadline.

But there’s a problem.

“Philadelphia, like almost every city, has no central data base of fire escape locations,” said Guss.

She says the city decided to crowd source the locations.

“We built an app that’s on our website and you can tell us, ‘I saw a fire escape and here’s where it is,’” Guss explained.

Guss says if they find one with no inspection report, the owner will be cited, though the main goal is to get them inspected.

“Folks have a grace period. We very much want them to file those reports now,” Guss said.

The law was inspired by the tragic 2014 death of 22-year-old Albert Suh, killed when the rusty fire escape he was sitting on crashed to the ground near Rittenhouse Square.

Source: CBS Local Philadelphia KYW1060 All News. All the time. @Pat Loeb

Pat Loeb’s radio experience has the makings of a country song: she lived a lot of places, went down a lot of roads, but they all led her home — to Philadelphia and to KYW Newsradio, where she started her career some 30 years ago. Born and rais…
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NFPA 1: Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demo Operations

Chapter 16 of NFPA 1, Fire Code, requires structures undergoing construction, alteration, or demolition operations to comply with NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations. NFPA 241 provides measures for preventing or minimizing fire damage during construction, alteration, and demolition operations. (The fire department and other fire protection authorities also should be consulted for guidance.)

The requirements of NFPA 241 cover issues such as the location and use of temporary construction for offices, storage, and equipment enclosures; control of processes and hazards such as hot work; temporary heating and fuel storage; and waste disposal. The general requirements also cover temporary wiring and lighting, site security, access for fire fighting, and on-site provision of first aid fire-fighting equipment.

Extensive details from NFPA 241 are included, as extracts, in Chapter 16 of NFPA 1. NFPA 1, 2015 edition, extracts from NFPA 241, 2013 edition.

In addition to compliance with NFPA 241, Chapter 16 contains some additional, NFPA 1 specific, provisions:
A fire protection plan must be establishes where required by the AHJ. (A fire safety program helps control fires and emergencies that may occur during construction or demolition operations by early planning and implementation of safety measures.)
Fire department access roads in accordance with Section 18.2.3 of NFPA 1 must be provided at the start of a project and maintained throughout construction. This ensures adequate access for the fire department should a fire or emergency occur.

Construction and demolition operations can be dangerous, and history has shown us that major fires and property damage can occur, if the proper safety measures are not followed. NFPA 1, through NFPA 241, offer the provisions necessary to ensure safe construction and building demolitions.

For additional information, check out this article from the Jan/Feb 2015 NFPA Journal about the recent uptick in huge fires at residential complexes under construction, and how NFPA 241 can protect these buildings from loss.

Source: Kristin Bigda Fire Protection Engineer with NFPA, Blog Post on Aug 11, 2017

https://community.nfpa.org/community/nfpa-today/blog/2017/08/11/nfpa-1-safeguarding-construction-alteration-and-demo-operations-firecodefridays?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nfpablog+%28NFPA+Today+BLOG%29

Kristin is a Principal Fire Protection Engineer at NFPA. Works with codes and standards related to life safety, building protection, fire doors and passive fire protection strategies.

Tiverton woman escapes fire with minor burns, a NFEA Fire Escape Inspector gives his insights

TIVERTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A multi-household house in Tiverton was closely broken in a fireplace Thursday afternoon.

Firefighters responded to 214 Chace Ave. simply earlier than four p.m. and arrived to seek out the constructing absolutely concerned, in accordance with Tiverton Hearth Chief Robert Lloyd.

Lloyd stated the tenant suffered some burns however declined remedy. Crews have been seen reuniting the lady together with her ferret, which that they had rescued from the hearth.

No firefighters have been harm, based on the chief, however the warmth did take a toll on them.

About forty firefighters responded in complete, with mutual assist being referred to as in from a number of neighboring communities.

Lloyd stated it was an “intense” hearth and it took crews about half-hour to get the flames beneath management.

The injury to the house was in depth, in line with Lloyd, and the constructing will doubtless be condemned.

The reason for the hearth stays underneath investigation.

As soon as a certified Fire Escape Inspector from the National Fire Escape Association came across the story, immediately began to question that fire escape in subject. It appeared to him that the fire escape was incomplete in its design as it didn’t allow for safe evacuation complete to grade.

It remains unclear if fire escape egress was blocked, making it difficult for tenants to evacuate and reach an area of safety. Let alone, if an inspection record exists in the building or fire department as mandated by national model fire codes.

Throwback Thursday! 2012 Fire Code Adoption. Back When Fire Escapes First Became Subject to Specific Examination Requirements

CHANGE TYPE: New

CHANGE SUMMARY: Existing exterior fire escapes require an inspection by a registered design professional or persons acceptable to the fi re code official no more than every 5 years.

2012 CODE: 1104.16.5 Materials and Strength. Components of fire escape stairs shall be constructed of noncombustible materials. Fire escape stairs and balconies shall support the dead load plus a live load of not less than 100 pounds per square foot(4.78 kN/m2). Fire escape stairs and balconies shall be provided with a top and intermediate handrail on each side. The fire code official is authorized to require testing or other satisfactory evidence that an existing fire escape stair meets the requirements of this section.

1104.16.5.1 Examination.
Fire escape stairs and balconies shall be examined for structural adequacy and safety, in accordance with Section 1104.16.5, by a registered design professional or others acceptable to the fire code official every five years, or as required by the fire code official. An inspection report shall be submitted to the fire code official after such examination.

CHANGE SIGNIFICANCE: Building fire escapes are a means-of-egress component in many existing multiple-story buildings. Neither the IBC nor IFC contains a specific definition as to what actually constitutes a fire escape, and in previous editions of the codes, they did not establish a frequency for their inspection. The IBC provisions for existing building in Section 3406.1.2 only permits a fire escape as a means-of-egress component in existing buildings and limits the installation of new fire escapes on existing buildings when the building code official determines they are necessary based on the substantiation by the registered design professional that exterior stairways cannot be used due to the lot line limiting the size of the stair, or conditions where the fire escapes could impact the egress path in sidewalks, alleys, or roads at grade. Additionally,new fire escapes, when allowed by the building code official, cannot utilize ladders or windows as a means of egress component. Fire escapes are typically prohibited in new construction.

A new requirement in Section 1104.16.5.1 establishes an inspection frequency for fire escapes and balconies erected on existing buildings. By design, fire escapes present a lot of concern to code officials because the stairs, ladders, balconies, and mechanical fasteners are commonly constructed of carbon or galvanized steel, which will rust if not properly maintained. Rust is a metal oxide that corrodes and damages carbon or galvanized steel and reduces its strength. The evaluation is necessary to
confirm that this exterior stair egress component satisfies a minimum design load requirement prescribed in Section 1104.16.5, is properly maintained, and is available for service in the event of an emergency that requires the occupants to egress the building. Unless otherwise specified by the fire code official, the 2012 IFC requires an inspection of fire escapes and their balconies every 5 years.

Fire escapes are now subject to specific examination requirements. 1104.16.5.1.

128 PART 3 ■ Building and Equipment Design Features
The individual evaluating fire escapes is required to be a registered design professional or an individual approved by the fire code official. The evaluation should include a review of the requirements in ASCE 7, Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures, including the requirements in Section 13.4 for mechanical fasteners and Section 4.4 for handrails and grab bars. If adopted by the jurisdiction, the individual performing the inspection should also review the ASCE 7 Appendix  11B requirements for existing buildings.

2012 International Fire Code Significant Changes Edition

Howdy Ya’ll! We’ll Be In Texas Next Month To Host a Fire Escape Awareness Seminar, Come Join Us, As We Speak to Local AHJ’s Across Texas About The Dangers of Fire Escapes!

Join us for our monthly meeting & training for June 2017. This month we will be joined by Francisco Meneses with the National Fire Escape Association to discuss fire escapes. We will discuss the basics of code requirements as it relates to the -history of fire escapes -standardizing the process of inspecting fire escape systems -standardizing the process of Repairing, Certifying and/or Load Testing Fire Escape Systems -introduction of Industry Standard Documentation
2012 IFC 1104.16.5.1 Fire escape stairs must be examined every 5 years, by design professional or others acceptable and inspection report must be submitted to the fire code official.

All members in attendance will be issued one CEU for one hour. Please make sure to RSVP and please bring $10 for a buffet lunch.

visit the Fire Prevention Association of North Texas for more details: http://fpant.org/