Fire Escapes In The News


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:

Flowerpots on a Fire Escape?

Can a Neighbor Keep Flowerpots on a Fire Escape?



Fire tears through Sanford neighborhood

Fire tears through Sanford neighborhood, destroying apartment buildings

A resident of the building where the fire started said she climbed down a fire escape to get out and was one of 4 people taken to a hospital for various reasons, including smoke inhalation.






SANFORD — A fast-moving fire damaged or destroyed six buildings in the heart of Sanford on Thursday afternoon, sending at least four people to the hospital.

Witnesses said they smelled smoke long before seeing flames in a pile of trash on the back porch of one of the buildings, according to the state Fire Marshal’s Office. The flames spread to four buildings on one side of Island Avenue before jumping across the street and damaging two others, officials said.

“Eyewitnesses told us the fire started outside on a back porch (at 33 Island Ave.),” State Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said. “Some people said they could smell smoke for an hour prior to seeing the fire, which would lead us to believe that it was a smoldering fire. That would suggest it could have been started by a discarded cigarette.”

A team of four fire marshals was expected to spend the night sifting through rubble in the burned out neighborhood and interviewing witnesses before trying to pinpoint the fire’s cause on Friday, Thomas said. Two of the buildings at 33 Island Ave. and 35 Island Ave. were expected to be torn down overnight because they pose a safety hazard.

Four people were transported to local hospitals, including one with a cardiac-related condition. Fire Chief Steven Benotti said one person suffered smoke inhalation and two experienced anxiety. He did not have further information about their conditions.


Video courtesy of Amber Crocker via Facebook

Sanford Police Chief Thomas P. Connolly Jr. said police officers and firefighters escorted students from the nearby Lafayette Elementary School to buses after classes ended Thursday. The chief estimated the school is about 150 yards from the fire scene. If the wind had been blowing in the direction of the school, the students would have been evacuated, but he said they were never in danger.

“It was a nasty fire,” Connolly said.


Benotti said the fire, which was first reported at 1:15 p.m, put firefighters in danger because power lines were burning and falling into the street.

No firefighters were injured, but power to the neighborhood had to be shut down for several hours, Benotti said. Firefighters used a drone with a video feed to see the sprawling fire from the air and help direct the fire hoses that poured water into the burning buildings.

Benotti estimated that more than 100 firefighters from 25 agencies in Maine and New Hampshire responded to the scene.

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

14 injured as fire burns

14 injured as fire burns through Brooklyn apartment building



Fourteen people were injured, one seriously, in an early morning fire at a Brooklyn apartment building.

The three-alarm blaze broke out just before 5 a.m. Monday in a kitchen on the second floor of the four-story building on 49th Street in Borough Park.

It quickly rose up the cockloft to the top floors.

When the fire started burning, fire crews believe it had time to spread before the families inside knew about it, making for frantic moments as they tried to escape.

“Some neighbors got us out, some people called us,” resident Martici Weinberg said. “And they rang the bell, ‘fire.’ We grabbed the kids. We got out.”

The smoke was so intense that nine people took the fire escape, climbing to the roof to avoid the flames.

In the second-floor apartment where investigators believe the fire began, a woman trapped by the bars on her windows.

“There was no way she could get out,” FDNY Deputy Chief Peter Leicht said. “We had a firefighter on the roof. He heard her call. The firefighter on the roof called our inside team. The inside team was dispatched to go into the rear bedroom.”

The fire crews walked through flames to get to her, but by the time they reached her, the woman was unconscious.

She was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries.

Nine others who lived in the building were treated for minor injuries.

More than 130 firefighters responded to the fire. Four of them suffered minor injuries.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out for this Fire Prevention Week 2017

“Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out,” is the theme for this year’s Fire Protection Week, which will be held October 8–14.

According to a recent NFPA survey, nearly half of all Americans have not developed a home fire escape plan, and do not practice one regularly. Evidence suggests, however, that planning and practice can mean the difference between life and death in a home fire. “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out” will not only seek to teach the public what a home escape plan entails, but also about how quickly home fires can spread and how little time residents have to escape safely. “People tend to think they have more time to escape a home fire than they actually do, and that over-confidence may play a role in why some people don’t develop a home escape plan or practice it regularly,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA vice president for Outreach and Advocacy.

More information about Fire Prevention Week and this year’s campaign can be found online at the website.

OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations of 2017

OSHA just named the Top 10 most cited violations of 2017 at the annual National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expo held in Indianapolis, IN.

The National Safety Council (NSC) Congress & Expo brings together the world’s largest gathering of safety professionals annually and this year was no exception. Hundreds of safety professionals attended yet again one of the largest forums for health and safety, products, education, and networking events where they revealed OSHA’s most cited violations for this current year.

As stated by NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P Hersman, “The OSHA Top 10 is more than just a list, it is a blueprint for keeping workers safe. When we all work together to address hazards, we can do the best job possible to ensure employees go home safely each day.”

For those involved in the fire escape industry, it comes as no surprise that Fall Protection (29 CFR 1926.501) continues to maintain the No. 1 spot on this list. While, scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451) comes in at third and ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053) at sixth place in the list shedding light yet again to the most prominent violations handed out by OSHA thus far.

OSHA states that employers must train workers in hazard recognition and the care and safe use of equipment such as ladders and scaffolds, and fall protection systems.

Falls can be prevented when employees understand proper set up and safe use of equipment.

Ladder Safety: Employees must be trained to properly use a ladder- this includes safety measures like:
-Maintain three points of contact
-Place the ladder on level footing
-Always face the ladder
-Secure the ladder by locking the metal braces at the center of the ladder
-Don’t overreach
-Don’t walk the ladder

Scaffold Safety: Employees must be trained to safely set up and use scaffolds- this includes safety measures like:
-During setup: fully plank scaffolds, complete all guardrails, ensure stable footing and plumb and level
-Ensure proper access to scaffolds
-A competent person must inspect the scaffold before use
-Don’t climb over cross braces
-Don’t stand on guardrails
-Don’t use a ladder on a scaffold
-Roof Safety: Employees must be trained to avoid fall hazards on -a roof and properly use fall protection equipment-this includes safety measures like:
-Make sure your harness fits and is not defective when using PFAS
-Always stay connected/tie off
-Ensure that all anchor points are safe
-Protect all holes, openings and skylights
-Don’t sit or walk on skylights or other openings

Below is a full list of OSHA’s top 10 violations and some NFPA codes and standards in hopes of helping to resolve and mitigate future violations related to stairways and ladders, scaffolding, and fall protection training and requirements.

1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (29 CFR 1926.501): 6,072 violations

2. Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200): 4,176 violations

3. Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451): 3,288 violations – Scaffolding is addressed in Chapter 8 of NFPA 241, the Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations. The document provides measures for preventing or minimizing fire damage to structures, including those in underground locations, during construction, alteration, or demolition. More information about this standard and how it applies to all construction projects regardless of size can be found in a recent NFPA Bulletin titled, “Prevention Construction Site Fires”

4. Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134): 3,097 violations

5. Lockout/Tagout (29 CFR 1910.147): 2,877 violations

6. Ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053): 2,241 violations – Ladder accidents happen all the time it is crucial to perform safety checks before ladders are to be used in order to guarantee safe-working conditions. OSHA encourages you to review the Ladder Safety Checklist before each use.

7. Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178): 2,162 violations

8. Machine Guarding (29 CFR 1910.212): 1,933 violations

9. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (29 CFR 1926.503): 1,523 violations

10. Electrical – Wiring Methods (29 CFR 1910.305): 1,405 violations

Article Created by Gabriel Cabrera, Chief Technology Officer for the National Fire Escape Association on Oct 11, 2017.

Man arrested after fatal apartment fire

Man arrested after fatal apartment fire in south Minneapolis

– The smell of charred wood still lingers in the air at 1500 Park Avenue in Minneapolis.

It’s all that remains of the apartment building where 59-year-old-Royce James lived. He died of injuries sustained by jumping from a third-story window during the fire, which authorities believe may have been set purposefully.

59-year-old Royce Wayne James (foreground in a gray shirt) died Friday evening after jumping from a third-story window to avoid an apartment fire. 

“It was three minutes of horrible,” said Jenna Harper, who lives nearby and jumped in to help residents of the building to safety Friday evening. “I’m literally sprinting around with the paramedics and firefighters. Just because you don’t have a degree in this or you weren’t trying to do it, doesn’t mean you can’t help people.”

Family members identified James and his girlfriend, Vicki Ness, who also jumped from the same window and was sent to the hospital with critical injuries. Several others were treated for smoke inhalation and 30 people who lived in the building remain uprooted due to the blaze.

Police arrested a man in connection with the incident Friday night, booking 30-year-old Marcus Dewayne Shanks into Hennepin County Jail on probable cause murder charges.

One firefighter received a minor injury while battling the blaze, but was able to return to putting out the fire.

According to officials, the fire was on the third floor of the apartment building. Firefighters rescued multiple people by ladder from windows and the fire escape. Eighteen of the 22 units in the building were occupied at the time.

This is the ninth fire fatality in Minneapolis so far this year.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

6 Critical Home Fire Escape Planning Tips

Fire Prevention Week is October 8-14, 2017: Information to share with your P&C insurance clients

Knowing that today’s homes burn faster than ever, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out” as the official theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, October 8-14, 2017.

2 minutes to escape
Experts say you may have as little as two minutes (or even less) to safely escape a typical home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds.

“Modern home furnishings, along with the fact that newer homes tend to be built with more open spaces and unprotected lightweight construction, all contribute to an increased rate at which home fires burn,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA. “These factors make home escape planning and practice critical.”

Common Misperceptions
Meanwhile, a national survey recently conducted by NFPA shows that Americans continue to have many misperceptions around home escape planning and practice:

-Less than half of Americans (48%) know that the correct components of a home fire escape plan include working smoke alarms, two ways out of each room and an outside meeting place.

-Nearly one quarter of Americans (23%) do not know that each room in the home should have at least two exits.

-Close to three in five Americans (57%) think that in a typical single-family home fire situation, once the smoke alarm sounds, the average person would have more than two minutes to escape safely.

“Home is the place people are at greatest risk of fire, but ironically it’s the place they feel safest from it,” said Carli. “That over-confidence may contribute to the public’s continued lack of awareness around home escape planning and practice.”

True speed at which home fires spread
“Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out” works to teach people about the true speed at which today’s home fires can spread, and the vital importance of home escape planning and practice in the event of one. A home escape plan includes:

-working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom and near all sleeping areas;

-2 ways out of every room, usually a door and a window; and

-a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home.

Practice twice a year
Home escape plans should be practiced by all members of the household twice a year.

“In a fire situation, a practiced home escape plan ensures that everyone knows what to do if the smoke alarm sounds and how to use that time wisely,” Carli said.

Here are 6 key tips for having a home fire escape plan:

1. Map home & exits.
Draw a map of your home by using the NFPA grid in English (PDF)
or Spanish (PDF) with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.

2. Fire drills.
Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.

3. Teach children how to escape.
It’s important to teach children how to escape the home their own in case you can’t help them.

4. Help the fire department find you.
Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.

5. Close doors.
Close doors behind you as you leave — this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.

6. Stay outside.
Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

Source: by Jayleen R. Heft on October 05, 2017 and