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