Fire Escapes In The News

6 Children Hospitalized After Providence Fire

6 Children Hospitalized After Providence Fire

Six children have been hospitalized with minor injuries following a fire in Rhode Island.

June 26, 2017, at 5:06 a.m.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Six children have been hospitalized as a precautionary measure following a fire in Rhode Island.

Firefighters say the fire broke out in a Providence apartment building around 10 a.m. Sunday.

Arriving firefighters found two children on the second floor fire escape and used ground ladders to rescue them. Fire officials say the two rescued and other four children who lived in the building were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

None of the five adults who lived in the building were injured. One firefighter was hospitalized for a hand injury.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Ottumwa, Iowa Addresses Courthouse Fire Safety

OTTUMWA, IOWA— The initial report from a consulting firm’s May site visit has the county wondering what additional work will have to precede the replacement of windows in the courthouse.

In March the county board of supervisors agreed to have Chairman Jerry Parker contact Victor Amoroso of A and J Associates for recommendations on replacing windows in the courthouse. “There are certain things we can and cannot do,” said Parker, because the building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Amoroso and architect Douglas Steinmetz examined the windows in May. Parker told supervisors last week that Steinmetz and Amoroso “found some things they thought we might want to address before we do the windows.”

Two concerns that Parker mentioned were sand in the fifth floor front window and sporadic fire protection.

Sand in the fifth floor front window may indicate that the masonry is pulling apart, Steinmetz’s report says. Photographs and observations made at the time of the site visit were inconclusive though there does appear to be an area of missing exterior mortar, Steinmetz said.

According to the report, exploratory construction will be needed to evaluate the situation. In addition, the missing center pier at this window will have to be reconstructed. “This will help with structural concerns and also reduce the glass area helping to reduce solar gain in the office located by this window,” the report says.

Steinmetz called the fire protection system at the courthouse “spotty.” “System does not provide full coverage along designated exit routes,” his report says.

County Auditor Kelly Spurgeon told supervisors last week that the courthouse is inspected every year, and she doesn’t understand why the deficiency hasn’t been mentioned before.

“It might be good to have the fire inspector look at it,” said Parker at the May 30 board meeting.

Supervisor Greg Kenning suggested that the county address the sprinkler issue before proceeding with the window project.

Supervisors instructed Spurgeon to look into Steinmetz’s concerns in collaboration with courthouse Building Maintenance Manager Andrew Birch.

“I still haven’t read the report yet,” said Spurgeon Monday. Her office is busy with fiscal budgets this time of year. Spurgeon said the courthouse is inspected every year, and spotty coverage of the sprinkler system has never been brought to her attention.

Parker said Monday that there are no sprinklers on the fifth floor of the courthouse. “We don’t know that they are required to be there,” he said. The floor is used only for storage.

Parker said the county also has questions about some fire escapes and exit routes. “Some of the bolts going into that old stone are loose,” said Parker. If the fire escapes are needed, their stability will have to be addressed.

Another issue supervisors want to address involves the escape route through the main courtroom on the third floor. “We keep that door locked,” Parker said. “They were afraid people visiting the courthouse could slip a weapon in there, so we were required to keep that door locked.”

However, the courtroom is designated as an escape route, Parker said. If the fire inspector requires that access to the courtroom be unrestricted for fire safety, the county will not be able to keep the courtroom locked as law enforcement requested.

Anyone in the courtroom has an escape route, Parker said, but when court is not in session, the room is locked, and a different escape route has to be used.

Parker said that he’s contacted Ottumwa Fire Chief Tony Miller to request that the city’s fire inspector look into the issues addressed in the Steinmetz’s report.

Source: Ottumwa Courier
Reporter Winona Whitaker can be contacted at wwhitaker@ottumwacourier.com and followed on Twitter @courierwinona.

A Look At Oakland’s Warehouse Fire, Fire Escapes Would Have Made The Difference…

Yesterday
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on charges in the Oakland warehouse fire that killed 36 people in December (all times local):

5 p.m.

The lead attorney representing relatives of half of people who died in a massive warehouse fire says the families are pleased with criminal charges filed against the men who authorities say turned the building into an illegal artists’ collective.

Attorney Mary Alexander said, however, she’s disappointed the owner of the building hasn’t been charged. Alexander said she believes the owner is just as responsible as the two men arrested on charges of illegally converting the warehouse to house upward of two dozen people.

Derick Almena and Max Harris were charged Monday with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of three dozen people who died in the Dec. 2 fire in Oakland.

Alameda County prosecutors declined to discuss whether more people would be charged, but they did say their investigation was closed.

Alexander and several other attorneys represent the families of 18 victims who are suing Almena, Harris, the building’s owner and others for wrongful death.

___

2:40 p.m.

Attorneys for a man who ran the Ghost Ship warehouse, where 36 people died in a massive fire, say their client is being made a scapegoat as prosecutors blame him for the deaths in Oakland.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced Monday that warehouse operator Derick Almena had been charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutors say he rented out space in the illegally converted warehouse and “knowingly created a firetrap” with no way to escape.

Almena’s attorneys said in a statement that the charges “represent no less than a miscarriage of justice.”

Max Harris, who also lived at the Ghost Ship and is accused of organizing a dance party on the night of the fire, faces the same charges.

Each defendant could face up to 39 years in prison if convicted.

___

1:25 p.m.

The Alameda County district attorney says she has filed 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter against two men in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire that killed three dozen people in December in Oakland, California.

District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced the charges on Monday against Derick Almena, saying he rented out space in the illegally converted warehouse, and Max Harris, who is accused of planning an unpermitted party.

Both men were arrested earlier Monday.

Prosecutors say so much evidence was destroyed in the blaze that a specific cause of the fire will likely never be known.

O’Malley says the organizers were reckless and “knowingly created a firetrap with inadequate means of escape.” She says one way out of the building was blocked.

O’Malley says each defendant could face up to 39 years in prison if convicted.

___

10:40 a.m.:

A source close to the investigation tells The Associated Press that two men have been arrested and will be charged with involuntary manslaughter in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire that killed 36 partygoers in Oakland.

The Alameda County district attorney says she will formally announce charges later Monday.

The person says Derick Almena and Max Harris will each be charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter.

The source was not authorized to publicly discuss the charges and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Authorities say Almena leased the warehouse and illegally sublet space for artists to live and work. He also held for-profit concerts at the warehouse, which authorities say was not licensed for entertainment.

Harris lived at the Ghost Ship and is accused of helping plan the December concert where the fire broke out.

“If the Oakland Building would’ve been equipped with exterior Fire Escapes, countless of lives would have been saved that day” – Fire Protection Engineer Gabriel Cabrera with the City of Dallas, who has been keeping a close eye on the aftermath of this tragedy mentions as he is made aware of the legal proceedings made by Alameda County officials.

Source: AP News

Residents flee down fire escapes as fire tears through Brooklyn building

EAST FLATBUSH, Brooklyn (WABC) — A third-alarm fire tore through a row of apartments on the side of a four-story building in Brooklyn.

According to fire marshals, the fire at 832 Linden Blvd., in Brooklyn on Tuesday was accidental, sparked by an electrical strip. Smoke alarms were not operational.

The flames broke out at Linden Boulevard and East 53rd Street in East Flatbush around 4:30 p.m.

Flames were shooting out the top of the structure, sending huge plumes of black smoke into the sky.

Firefighters quickly got the blaze under control, but residents could be seen from climbing down fire escapes to the street below.

All residents were evacuated safely, and no injuries were reported.

About 30 residents were left homeless. The rest of the building was reoccupied.

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/

‘potentially catastrophic’ conditions at apartment building

DA looking into ‘potentially catastrophic’ conditions at apartment building

Updated:

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

Philadelphia developed a new application to help citizens map locations of Fire Escapes throughout Philly

Fire Escape Breaking News! The next big Fire Escape Tsunami wave has officially touched ground-zero in the city of Philadelphia, that is, because Philly’s Fire Department and Department of Licenses and Inspections just released an application, called “Fire Escape Crowdsourcing”; that will help identify and officially map Fire Escapes throughout the city in preparation for July 1st, 2017 upcoming mandatory inspections.

http://phl.maps.arcgis.com/apps/GeoForm/index.html?appid=865ee36b9ab14590a51d4d2aa8f9c951

Fire Escapes

Bill No. 160462, passed by City Council last year, amended the Philadelphia Fire and Property Maintenance Codes to require that building owners have fire escapes and fire balconies regularly inspected by a licensed professional engineer with experience in structural engineering.

Pursuant to the bill, the engineer must conduct an inspection, provide the building owner a full report on the inspection, and submit a summary of the report to L&I. The inspection report must include a classification of the condition of the fire escape/balcony or façade as Safe; Unsafe; or, if the condition is not currently Unsafe but will become so unless specified repairs and maintenance are completed, as Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program. If the report:

  • Identifies any Unsafe conditions, you have 24 hours to take actions necessary to protect public safety, including posting notice of the condition inside the building; 3 days to apply for necessary permits to repair the fire escape/balcony; and 10 days to begin work to correct the condition. Following the repairs, the engineer has two weeks to reinspect and submit an updated report.
  • Identifies any conditions as Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program, you are responsible for taking the actions identified in the report to keep the conditions from becoming Unsafe.
  • Classifies your fire escapes/balconies as Safe, they will be tagged with weather-resistant placards that include the date of inspection and the date of the next required inspection.

Due Date: Inspections, reports, and summaries are due July 1, 2017, or ten years after the construction of your building, whichever comes last, and then every five years thereafter. If you have restored your fire escapes/balconies since June 30, 2016, you may request an extension of the due date for your first inspection by contacting L&I at fireescapereports@phila.gov.

For more information and required forms, please see the L&I website at http://www.phila.gov/li/Pages/PermitsCertificates.aspx.

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.

COPYRIGHT © 2017, STARK & STARK

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.

Photo

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.

Photo

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.”