Fire Escapes In The News

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.

Operational Safety on Fire Escapes

Lessons from the Fireground: 

Fire Fighter Dies from Fall off Fire Escape Ladder – Illinois

Make some time today to read the Lessons from the Fireground from NIOSH Report F2010-25 related to operations from fire escapes. Get your company out into the streets today or this evening and take a look at some of your buildings and the material condition of existing building features and fire escape platforms, connections, counterweights, drop ladders, treads etc. Discuss with your company or station the various conditions to look for both during day and night operations and during times in which smoke may obscure critical safety conditions and impact operational integrity. Think about loading considerations. from operating personnel as well as from charged hose lines and added civilians. Lots to discuss, learn and share; all at the same time taking pause with remembrance and honor for Firefighter Christopher D. Wheatley, Chicago Fire Department (IL)

Firefighter Christopher Wheatley, CFD

 

Firefighter Christopher D. Wheatley, Chicago Fire Department (IL)

Firefighter Wheatley and his ladder company were dispatched to a structural fire in a four-story commercial and residential structure.

Upon their arrival, firefighters observed smoke and sparks coming from a cooking exhaust fan chute.

Firefighter Wheatley ascended a ladder attached to the side of the building to gain access to the roof.

He was wearing full structural firefighting protective clothing, including a SCBA.

He also carried a water fire extinguisher with him as he climbed.

When Firefighter Wheatley reached the roof, he lost his grip and fell 53 feet to the ground.

Firefighter Wheatley landed on his feet and immediately dropped to the ground.

Firefighter Wheatley was treated by firefighters and transported to the hospital. He was pronounced dead at the hospital due to multiple injuries.

Please take the time to review the Lessons from the Fireground of this LODD and apply them to your company, battalion, division or organization.

 

View form the street- NIOSH Photo

View form the street- NIOSH Photo

 

 

 

Alpha-Delta Side with Upper Straight Ladder to Roof

 

Contributing Factors from NIOSH Report 

  • Using a fire escape to access the roof rather than a safer means such as an aerial ladder or interior stairway
  • Victim unable to maintain contact with the vertical portion of  fire escape due to carrying the hand pump.

Key NIOSH Recommendations

  • Ensure that standard operating guidelines (SOGs) on the use of fire escapes are developed, implemented, and enforced
  • Ensure that tactical level accountability is implemented and enforced
  • Ensure that companies are rigorously trained in safe procedures for roof operations and climbing ladders of any type
  • Ensure that fire fighters are rigorously trained in safe procedures for carrying and/or hoisting equipment when ascending or descending elevations
  • Evaluate the fire prevention inspection guidelines and process to  ensure that they address high hazard occupancies, such as restaurant, and incorporate operational crew participation.

 

Take the necessary precautions while utilizing these building features to enhance operational flexibility and fire and rescue effectiveness. Photo CJ Naum

 

Operational Considerations from FiregroundLeadership.com

  • IF the fire escape looks unstable, is deteriorated or has evidence of being unsound: Use alternative access means-Don’t use the exterior fire escape for access or operations
  • Based on building use and condition, some cast-iron, wrought-iron and steel fire escapes may have weathered deteriorated or missing components and parts. Use care and implement effective situational awareness while ascending or working from landing platforms.     
  • The presence of deteriorated or  compromised attachment and fastening hardware, brackets, angle iron and connectors is highly probable. 
  • Use caution when pulling down a drop ladder from above.
  • Be cautious of loose steel  components, grating, stringers, treads, rails, counterbalances as well  as façade building materials that may drop downward when initially pulling a ladder or accessing a stairs.
  • Use caution when initially accessing and placing body weight onto ladder steps and rungs, landings and rails. Be prepared for unexpected conditions and reactions.
  • The placement of charged handlines will add significant weight to the fire escape system that may already be load stressed. DonÂ’t overload with personnel or handlines. 
  • Be aware of added live and dead loads and their combined effect on the system integrity.   
  • Be aware of the horizontal forces  and loads that a charged handline may apply to railings.
  • Look for tenant furniture or other materials that may have been placed or stored on upper escape landings. Watch for and anticipate potential for dropped objects. 
  • Well-holes  may be deteriorated leading to successive grated balconies and provide limited space to pass through with PPE and carried equipment.
  • When ascending stairs or exterior attached ladders and goose neck transitions over roof parapets, edges onto the roof deck, keep both hands free: utilize equipment bags, slings, harness or drop ropes to carry, secure or obtain required tools, equipment or appliances.
  • Weather and environmental conditions will change operational risks: slippery walking/ working surfaces, platforms and railings, falling ice, and added loads will increase risk and diminish safety margins.
  • Be extra vigilant and cautious during night operations, since the lack of visibility may not identify weakness or hazards; use personal flashlights  and lamps and when time permits, have apparatus mounted spot lights directed to the fire escape and building façade.       
  • Fire escapes can be readily found on numerous buildings of heritage and legacy construction. They provide indispensable life safety for their occupants and ready accessibility for fire companies.  
  • Take the necessary precautions while utilizing these building features to enhance operational flexibility and fire and rescue effectiveness.

 

The presence of deteriorated or compromised attachment and fastening hardware, brackets, angle iron and connectors is highly probable. Use caution when pulling down a drop ladder from above. Photo CJ Naum

 

 

Fire Escapes come in all sizes. Photo CJ Naum

 

Additionally, the following NIOSH LODD is provided related to roof operations and transitioning from tactical positions for task assignments.

Career Fire Fighter Dies in Fall from Roof at Apartment Building Fire – New York

  • F2007-19 http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/pdfs/face200719.pdf

SUMMARY

On June 21, 2007, a 23-year-old male career fire fighter (the victim) died after falling from the roof at a four-story apartment building fire. When fire fighters arrived on scene, light smoke and fire was showing from a 4th floor window. The victim had just climbed the truck ladder to the roof bulkhead and was attempting to lower himself to the main roof when he fell. The roof saw (slung on the victim’s back) shifted causing the victim to lose his balance and fall to the ground. Fire fighters had been on scene less than 3 minutes when the victim fell. The victim was transported to a metropolitan hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. Key contributing factors to this incident include: judgment of the fire fighter in deciding on a riskier means of moving from the roof bulkhead to the main roof, the placement of the ladder against the roof bulkhead rather than the main roof which introduced additional fall risks for fire fighters, the hazardous task of climbing a ladder while laden with tools and equipment, and the method in which the saw was carried which allowed the shifting saw to put the fire fighter off balance.

NIOSH has concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should:

  • stress to fire fighters the importance of exercising caution when working at elevation
  • consider the location and placement of aerial ladders to prevent fire fighters from climbing from different elevations during fireground operations
  • consider the use of portable scissor ladders to facilitate access from an aerial ladder to the roof
  • ensure that fire fighters communicate any potential hazards to one another and ensure that team continuity is maintained during roof operations
  • evaluate the manner in which equipment is harnessed or carried by fire fighters to prevent loss of balance
  • consider reducing the amount of equipment that fire fighters must carry while climbing ladders

Manufacturers of fire service saws should:

  • consider ergonomic design principles to reduce the weight of ventilation saws
  • consider developing improved carrying slings

Former NYU student who fell from fire escape wins $29M suit

Former NYU student who fell from fire escape wins $29M suit

A former New York University athlete won a $29 million verdict in Manhattan court Tuesday ​– one that cannot be appealed — ​over a 2008 fall from a fire escape that left her a paraplegic.

“She’s just overwhelmed by the whole thing,” the woman’s attorney, Thomas Moore, told The Post.

“She cried with joy and thanksgiving. She just kept saying, ‘I don’t believe it,’” Moore said.

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Anastasia “Sasha” Klupchak

Anastasia “Sasha” Klupchak, who was an honors student and varsity soccer player, is guaranteed the $29 million from the building owner East Village Associates after her lawyer struck an unusual deal with defense counsel on Monday.

Called a “high low settlement” the parties agreed that if the jury came back with a verdict that was less than $13 million, the defense would pay $13 million; but if they arrived at a figure over $29 million, the landlord would cough up $29 million.

The four women, two men jury deliberated​ ​for three days following the four week trial before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joan Madden.

Even though the majority of the jury awarded a whopping $39.5 million, one holdout juror found that Klupchak​ ​was at least partially responsible for her injuries. The college student had been drinking and the defense argued that she treated the fire escape like a balcony instead of an emergency escape route.

The dissent means that the overall verdict is subject to a 25 percent reduction, bringing the total payout to just over $29 million​ ​– or the high ​cap agreed to by the parties ahead of the verdict.

“This litigation has been going on all these years,” Moore said about the 2009 case. “I wanted Sasha to have closure and get on with her life rather than wait for an appeals process that could take two years.”

Modal Trigger
The fire escape Klupchak fell from in 2008.

The pre-verdict deal means the award cannot be appealed. Before trial, the court had found that the landlord of the East Village walk-up, at 82 Second Ave., was liable for the then 22-year-old’s 2008 fall because a 1949 law prohibited the type of fire escape on the building.

The outdated escape is called a vertical ladder as opposed to the more-modern versions with staircases.

Klupchak was visiting a friend at 82 Second Ave. in November 2008 and they went out for a smoke on the fourth-floor fire escape behind the building just before midnight.

As she turned to climb back through the kitchen window, she fell through an unguarded opening in the fire escape platform. She plummeted 12 feet to a neighboring roof below and her spine was severed.

Her attorney, Thomas Moore, noted that there was no provision in the lease that said tenants couldn’t hang out on the fire escape. He also got the landlord, Bernard McElhone of East Village Associates, to admit under cross examination that “tens of thousands of New Yorkers regularly” hang out on the structures.

Even though Klupchak is paralyzed from the waist down, she has pursued a PhD in film studies from Emory University and now teaches at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta.

The landlord’s attorney, Peter Kopff, said that his client’s insurance company pushed for the settlement. He added,”our position was that the recreational use of the fire escape is unlawful and dangerous.

2 Children Dead, 4 Hurt In Chicago South Side Fire

CHICAGO (CBS) — Two girls were found dead and four others were injured in a house fire Saturday night in the Woodlawn neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.

CBS 2’s Lauren Victory Reports.

There is still no official cause for the fire that killed seven-month-old Ziya Grace and two-year-old Jamaii Grace. Both children were found dead in the basement of the home. The blaze injured three other children and a firefighter as well.

Firefighters responded to the two-story house fire at around 10:30 p.m. and rescued a six-year-old boy. He’s in critical condition at Comer Children’s Hospital. His relation to the two deceased children is not known.

Two women, ages 25 and 48, escaped the blaze and were taken to University of Chicago Medical Center where their conditions stabilized. A firefighter suffered minor injuries and was taken to the same hospital.

Deputy District Chief Mike Carbone said the fire moved quickly.

“A lot of credit has to go to these fire companies. They went in there under very heavy fire conditions,” he said.

Records from 2014 show the house on South Champlain Avenue having safety violations regarding the fire escape and stairs. Fire officials also said there were no smoke alarms in the basement, where the fire started.

Chicago Police’s Arson Unit is investigating. The cause of the blaze appears to be accidental.

More from Lauren Victory

check Granite State fire escapes

New Hampshire officials use Oakland warehouse fire to check Granite State fire escapes

NH1.com

The warehouse fire that killed 36 people in Oakland, California, has turned into a valuable safety lesson for inspectors around the country. NH1 News has learned, Portsmouth city officials are stepping up building inspections to assure fire codes are being met, to avoid a similar deadly disaster.

Cisco Meneses, who inspects fire escape around the country, took us on a tour of downtown Portsmouth where most buildings are more than 100 years old. He pointed out rusted out steps, obstructed entrances, and other fire code violations.

“These things are very dangerous. They’re collapsing and they haven’t been maintained,” Meneses said.

He says three out of four fire escapes fail inspection. New Hampshire is one of few states that doesn’t have a mandatory five year fire escape inspection law.

Meneses, who teaches fire safety, advised Oakland officials several years ago of the fire hazards in old warehouse buildings like the Ghost Ship Warehouse. That’s where 36 people died on December 2. Most of the victims were stuck on the second floor.

“They had an egress issue. There were no fire escapes on the outside,” Meneses told NH1 News.

The Ghost Warehouse hadn’t been inspected in 30 years and now Oakland city officials are being sued by several of the victims’ families.

Since that tragedy, Portsmouth city officials have stepped up their building inspections. One building of concern is Portsmouth’s Button Factory, which like the Oakland warehouse, is partitioned into artists’ spaces. A city inspection on Dec 7th showed “several suites having sleeping accomodations” and that’s a violation of city regulation.

Recent building inspections show at least six buildings in Portsmouth were cited for fire safety code violations.

Deadly warehouse fire in CA difficult to prevent

Inspectors: Deadly warehouse fire in CA difficult to prevent

 

By Bill Hormann, 13abc |
     

Despite inspectors’ best efforts, a deadly warehouse fire like that which claimed more than 36 people in Oakland, California, could happen in Toledo.

The reason is simple: it is not easy finding buildings that are being misused.

Tim Bohland, a fire inspector in Toledo says, “Unless we stumble on them or get a tip, it’s hard to know exactly what is out there.”

In California, the warehouse building permitted for commercial use was illegally converted into a business and assembly space. That made it attractive to artists.

Aimee Reid understands why such a tragedy as a fire and dozens of deaths could occur. She runs a children’s theatre workshop. Her group rents space at the Collingwood Arts Center.

But Aimee says artists like those in Oakland have trouble finding space to create. So she says, some simply overlook basic safety.

“Like heat. Is it adequately heated? who cares? I’ll wear a scarf, if I have to,” she says. “The plumbing isn’t so great or it’s not as clean as it should be.”

But David Golis, a building inspector with the City of Toledo says that type of thinking is “unacceptable”.

Golis told 13abc reporter Bill Hormann, “You have to have heat, plumbing, be able to wash your hands, that kind of thing. You want to be able to get out of the building safely.”

Proper exiting was a major issue in Oakland. Stacked wooden pallets were the only fire escape. That should have brought quick action.

Inspector Bohland says he “probably would have shut them down.”

Yet artists struggle to find space to create.

Reid admits, “Almost every space I’ve ever worked in is in dire need of upgrades.”

But as we found out this weekend, overlooking basic code requirements can be deadly.

17 Families Evacuated

17 Families Evacuated in Early Morning Apartment Fire in New Rochelle, 3 Injured

 November 27, 2016 – 10:27
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NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Three people, including one police officer, were taken to Montefiore Hospital New Rochelle with smoke inhalation, and 17 families were evacuated, as the result of an early morning fire at 11 Locust Avenue near Main Street in downtown New Rochelle.

New Rochelle firefighters were called to the scene shortly before 4:30 a.m., according to NRFD Deputy Chief John Reed.

An occupant of a 4th floor apartment at the front of the building had attempted to put out a fire with a dry chemical fire extinguisher, according to Reed. After the man called 911, New Rochelle Police responded.

“They were banging on the door trying to communicate with the occupant,” said Reed. “They were able to get him roused and out the door.”

UPDATE: Journal News quotes Deputy Chief Robert Benz, who was not on scene, that the mane escaped to the roof:

There were some anxious moments at first when the woman in the apartment told responding police officers and firefighters that her husband was still in the apartment, Benz said. A search revealed that he had climbed out a window onto the fire escape and made his way to the roof, where firefighters reached him with a ladder and took him to safety.

NRPD called NRFD to expedite a response. Members of the NRFD responded quickly and worked hard.

“It was a great stop,” said Reed. “Fire had gotten up into the cockloft, it was beginning to extend across the roof. We were able to knock it down and save the building.”

A cockloft, or “inverted roof”, is the space between the roof and the flat beams to provide a pitch to drain rain and a vented air space to reduce top-floor temperature.

There was extensive damage to the original fire apartment, it was completely destroyed. The floor below received water damage.

Con Edison and Red Cross were called to the scene. Utilities remain on and 15 of the families were allowed back in the building shortly after 6:00 a.m.

The two families in the damaged apartments were being relocated by Red Cross.

UPDATE: Red Cross spokeswoman Carolyn Sherwin said four families were displaced (6 adults, 1 child). They were given emergency assist, referrals & TLC.

The cause of the fire was not yet determined.

UPDATE: Sources tell Talk of the Sound a candle fellow over. Journal News reporting it was a religious candle.

No firefighters were injured.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Talk of the Sound received two separate reports that a total of three persons were taken to the hospital. Some photos provided by James O’Toole.

RELATED:

News12: Early morning fire destroys New Rochelle apartments

Journal News: Man escapes New Rochelle fire by climbing to roof of apartment building

 

Fire escape worries prompt inspection requirement

Fire escape worries prompt inspection requirement

Sharon Coolidge , scoolidge@enquirer.com 6:12 p.m. EDT October 18, 2016

sharon-coolidge

(Photo: Patrick Reddy/The Enquirer)

If you live in an old building with a fire escape, city officials have this warning for you: Be careful.

They’re simply not safe. In fact, city firefighters only use them as a last resort.

As a result, Cincinnati City Council is poised to require all fire escapes be inspected every five years. Under the plan, fire escapes on the oldest buildings would need to be inspected by next summer.

“They’re out of sight and out of mind, so you don’t think about it until you need it,” said Councilman Kevin Flynn. “And then it’s too late.”

Council is set to vote on the program Wednesday. The law passed out Council’s Neighborhoods Committee Monday with a 4-0 vote.

“The aging fire escape inventory in Cincinnati is showing signs of significant distress and deterioration,” Art Dahlberg, the city’s director of buildings and inspections wrote in a memo which was provided to The Enquirer. “A program of routine and systemic inspection .. is necessary to protect public safety.”

City officials said there are 5,500 fire escapes in the city.  The only inspections in the past have come when building owners have voluntarily hired someone to check.

It’s tough to argue against safety measures, but not everyone is happy with the change. Building owners must seek out and pay for their own inspections.

It’s not clear how much such inspections might cost – or even if there are any local companies to perform them.The city is requiring a licensed engineer inspect the fire escapes.

During a committee meeting Monday Councilman Chris Seelbach questioned the rush to new regulations, arguing buildings owners needed to time to get and pay for the inspections.

Property owner Ben Novak owns over 100 rental units in Clifton and East Walnut Hills, some with fire escapes.

“This is something that should probably be done, but where the problems are is details have not been discussed or put out there to the public,” Novak said. “I question requiring building owners to pay for inspections because we’re already paying taxes.”

Cincinnati Fire Union President Matt Alter said without proper maintenance and inspection, fire escapes are dangerous.

Gone unchecked for too long

City: Aging fire escapes showing signs of distress, deterioration

Council members say issue has gone unchecked for too long

Updated: 8:40 PM EDT Oct 19, 2016
Cinncinatti Fire Escapes Left for Too Long
 CINCINNATI —Cincinnati City Hall is taking on an issue that council members said has gone unchecked far too long.

Councilman Kevin Flynn said, “This is not something I am willing to delay. This is a necessity.”

According to a memo from the city manager, the aging fire escape inventory in Cincinnati is showing signs of significant distress and deterioration.

Currently there are 40 fire escapes with enforcement orders. In one case, inspectors found the ladder chained and broken cables. City leaders said a new fire escape program will increase the level of safety for citizens.

Inspections must be performed by a professional engineer. It’s estimated it will cost the owner of a small building between $300 and $700 every five years.

Councilwoman Yvette Simpson said, “The people impacted by this are going to pay some fees and we’ll do public engagement so the public will know what these charges are.”

The inspection program will begin next year.