Fire Escapes In The News

Powerless personal elevator proposed for high-rise building fire escapes

A Korean company has begun marketing a personal elevator-style fire escape system that carries people one or two at a time in stages down the exterior of a building and requires no electricity.

“Neri-Go”, by Asia Fire Protection, is intended for tall buildings and takes up no space inside.

In the event of fire, residents step onto a 60-cm-sq platform and release a brake to be lowered to the next level, where they step onto another.

The controlled descent is driven by the user’s weight, and when the user steps off it rises automatically for the next evacuee.

According to the BuyKorea website, it can accommodate those carrying children as well as the disabled.

Emergency evacuation from tall buildings has become an urgent question around the world following the Grenfell Tower fire in the UK in June, in which 71 people lost their lives after becoming trapped in a building that had only one staircase.

In that case, however, flames shot up the exterior of the building, which would have made Neri-Go unusable on the affected elevations.

Image: The Neri-Go system in actions (Asia Fire Protection)
Source: Global Construction Review | 1 December 2017 | By GCR Staff

Further Reading: New Fire Escape Design in the Making: Evacuation Elevators By Gabe Escapes, National Fire Escape Association™ published November 29, 2017.

‘Worst landlord’ admits demolishing building with family inside

A Harlem landlord has admitted putting a family’s life in danger when he started ripping out walls and fire escapes in an effort to get them to leave their rent stabilized apartment.

Ephraim Vashovsky pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court today to Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree and Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Vashovsky forced a couple and their five children, aged from one-to-12 years, to leave their fifth floor apartment at 21 East 115th Street after he purposefully made conditions there hazardous.


According to court documents, shortly after he bought the building for $3 million in May 2014, Vashovsky and his associates began a campaign to drive the family out in order to convert the building to luxury apartments.

The landlord shut off electricity, heat, hot water and running water in the building and had workers perform major demolitions in violation of DOB and HPD regulations.

“Vashovsky knowingly created gravely dangerous living conditions, including the risk of an entire building collapse, by removing structural and load-bearing elements,” said court documents, which noted that workers removed critical fire retardant materials, fire escapes, and internal walls and floors – creating the risk of a fire ripping through the building or an inhabitant falling multiple stories.

“This landmark conviction establishes for the first time that New York landlords can and will be held criminally responsible for forcing tenants to live in life-threatening conditions,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

“I hope today’s guilty plea puts landlords on notice: we will not tolerate intimidation and corner-cutting measures that endanger New Yorkers, and we will not hesitate to bring criminal charges when necessary”

Public Advocate Letitia James called Vashovsky “a repeat offender on my Worst Landlords List. I want to thank District Attorney Vance for ensuring this landlord was brought to justice and for protecting New Yorker’s right to a safe and decent home,” said James.

The case comes days after the City Council passed new legislation aimed at protecting tenants from harassment. The Certification of No Harassment (CONH) legislation will require covered building owners seeking to demolish or make significant alterations to their building to prove they have not engaged in harassment before they can get the permits they need from the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB).

If a landlord is found to have harassed tenants, they would not be able to pull those permits for five years – unless they make a substantial portion of their building affordable to low-income families, with no public subsidy.

Housing attorney Kara Rakowski, a partner at Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman called the bill a “clear overreach by the City.”

“Although this is a limited duration pilot program, and while we still have to wait for HPD to issue its Rule, this Bill is extremely disturbing,’ said Rakowski. “This legislation is a clear overreach by the City which could deprive owners of their property rights and due process.

“There is no evidence that this type of legislation will either prevent or deter harassment. In fact, subsequent owners who wish to clean up and renovate or develop covered properties would be forced to designate 20-25 percent of their building to affordable housing in perpetuity or be prevented from doing the work. Moreover, the issue of harassment will be investigated in part by community groups designated by HPD.”

The CONH program has been in place in Hell’s Kitchen since 1974, and a similar requirement applies to all Single-Room Occupancy buildings (SROs) citywide. Tenant advocates have been working to expand the program to neighborhoods with rising rents, where tenants are at particular risk of displacement.

The new policy is the latest in a series of efforts under Mayor Bill de Blasio to protect tenants and increase affordable housing options.

In October, landlord Steve Croman was jailed for tax evasion for refinancing loans by submitting applications with phony rent rolls that showed market rate rents for units held by rent-stabilized tenants.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is also pursing a civil case against the man dubbed “The Bernie Madoff of Landlords,” for harassing tenants of his 140 buildings, trying to get rid of rent-regulated residents to replace them with higher paying market rate tenants.


Reading man jailed after burglary at apartment house

Alleged Suspect: Terence R. Barber

READING, PA – City police arrested a man after he broke into an apartment house in the same south Reading neighborhood where he lives, investigators said Monday.Terence R. Barber, 29, of the 400 block of South Fifth Street was taken into custody shortly before noon Saturday.

Police said that Barber was arrested after one of the residents of the building he had entered about an hour earlier called to report that he had confronted the suspect.

Barber was committed to Berks County Prison in lieu of $10,000 bail after arraignment before District Judge Victor M. Frederick IV in Reading Central Court.

He is charged with burglary, trespassing and receiving stolen property.
According to police:

A tenant in the building, also in the 400 block of South Fifth, called 9-1-1 after hearing a window breaking on the floor above.

Police arrived and spoke to another resident of the building, who led officers to the kitchen, where there was a broken window and glass on the floor.

The man said that he was asleep but awoke when the door to his room opened. A man later identified as Barber started to enter the room. When he saw the room was occupied, he said, “Someone let me in.” He then closed the door and fled.

The victim got out of bed and went down the stairs to the kitchen. He saw the intruder leaving through the window, going down the fire escape and running north in an alley.

The victim said that he had seen the same man sitting on the steps of the building in the same block. About an hour later, he called police to report he “caught” the suspect.

The victim identified Barber as the person inside the building. A witness said that he found a necklace belonging to the victim with Barber while speaking to him in Barber’s home.

Source: READING EAGLE Tuesday November 28, 2017 12:01 AM

McDonald woman, children, boyfriend forced out of burning duplex

Amber Coleman, in gray sweatshirt, looks Wednesday morning at what remains of the steps and porch of her home.

McDonald woman, children, boyfriend forced out of burning duplex

A man on his way to a gym to work out early Wednesday alerted residents of a McDonald duplex it was on fire after spotting flames shooting out near the rear entrance.

Amber Coleman, her two daughters, ages 3 and 6, and her boyfriend had to climb onto a porch roof of the duplex at 110 North St. to escape the flames. A neighbor put a ladder up to the roof to rescue them. The children were off the roof when McDonald firefighters arrived to rescue the adults.

Bernie Dhanse, identified as the owner of the duplex by McDonald police, was able to escape from his first-floor apartment.

“I woke up and some guy was pounding on the side of the house,” Coleman said. “The stairs in the back were the only entrance to the apartment. All I could see in the back were smoke and flames.

“I just had knee surgery,” she added. “I didn’t have time to grab anything.”

McDonald fire Chief Terry Kerr said because of limited manpower, firefighters focused on getting the residents to safety before battling the flames.

Firefighters arrived at the scene minutes after getting the call just after 6 a.m.

Kerr said a state police fire marshal will investigate.

“I believe it started on the back porch,” Kerr said. “We were able to contain the damage to the porch area and kitchen.”

Firefighters were able to quickly put out the fire, but it was intense enough to melt the siding of a neighboring duplex on Grant Street.

Assisting at the scene were firefighters from Mt. Pleasant Township (Hickory), Midway, Cecil Township (No.3) and Sturgeon. No injuries were reported.

Source: By Kathie Warco, Nov 29, 2017 Updated Nov 29, 2017

Three-Alarm Fire Races – Union City (NJ)

Three-Alarm Fire Races Through Union City (NJ) Dwelling on Deputy Chief’s Final Tour





By Ron Jeffers

North Hudson Regional (NJ) firefighters begin their tour of duty at 7:30 a.m. On this day, November 28th, Group 3 prepared to say goodbye to their deputy chief, who was retiring after 44-years of service–but duty called first.

At 7:31 a.m., fire companies were dispatched to a reported fire in the area of Palisade Avenue & Sixth St. Smoke was visible from a distance as responding units were redirected to the 14th Street viaduct, which connects Union City (NJ) with Hoboken. A brush fire sent smoke into the sky. This hard-to-reach fire on the Palisades cliffs took some time to access as firefighters worked to get a hoseline into place and extinguish the flames.

As firefighters were still operating here and at another alarm, at 9:35 a.m. fire control dispatched a full assignment to 910 Kennedy Boulevard, Union City, for a reported structure fire. In coming companies were also informed by fire control that there were reports of people trapped and on fire escapes. Smoke was again visible from a distance.

Upon arrival, firefighters found smoke pushing from a four-story occupied multiple dwelling. There were off-duty firefighters there already assisting in the evacuation. Officials also report that a city police officer was bitten by a dog as he assisted in the evacuation. First Battalion Chief Lenny Calvo transmitted a second-alarm.

Two men were on a fire escape, but the drop latter to the ground did not work. Firefighters set up ground ladders to rescue them. Two women inside the building did not appreciate this means of egress and refused to climb down ladders. After the original body of fire was knocked down in a first-floor apartment, firefighters escorted them out the front door.

Additional ambulances were ordered and a third alarm struck by Deputy Chief Mike Cranwell for additional personnel. Companies still at the brush fire were assisted by city police and sheriff officers by moving hoselines off the viaduct to let those fire companies respond to the fire.

Flames extended upward through a pipe-chase and walls to upper floors of the four-story structure. As firefighters opened up the walls on the second floor above the fire apartment, there was heavy fire showing. The flames were extinguished and the fire was stopped before it could affect the third floor.

Residents were placed into a city police van and the Red Cross was at the scene to offer assistance. The Jersey City Gong Club canteen truck responded with bottled water for the exhausted firefighters, and coffee was offered to the members by the Coach House restaurant, which is located across the street.

When fire units became available they stopped by the 29th Street firehouse to wish Deputy Chief Cranwell the best in his retirement. The chief started his career with the former Union City Fire Department and many retired city firefighters were present. North Hudson Fire Directors Jeff Welz and Mike DeOrio, Fire Control co-Director Joe Isola, and Chief of Department Frank Montagne were also present.

Chief Montagne expressed how D.C. Cranwell was instrumental in improving the department and making conditions safer for all.

New Fire Escape Design in the Making: Evacuation Elevators

New Fire Escape Design in the Making: Evacuation Elevators

By Gabe Escapes, National Fire Escape Association™ published November 29, 2017.

With the many advancements in the realm of fire protection, it comes to no surprise that the latest fire and life safety technology comes in the form of evacuation elevators for exterior balconies and stairways complete to grade. For many high-rise buildings, it’s the next big thing. Traditional old fire escapes are a thing of the past, as this new design promises to evacuate occupants at faster rates than ever before due to its design.

While still in its early stages of development, the evacuation elevator continues to receive international praise by many concerned stakeholders who in essence hope to one day be able to install them at many of the high-rise buildings they manage across the globe.

Developed by a Korean company called Negiro, the evacuation elevator is designed for use for fires or other natural disasters where rapid escapes are critical for occupant safety and survival. Technically, when stairwells are unavailable or unsuitable for use during an emergency, occupants and patrons will have another shot to save their life as a new option to escape and reach safety has been developed.

So what exactly is the difference between fire escapes and evacuation elevators? While, being uniquely similar, traditional fire escapes are typically constructed with materials that are meant to stay in fixed positions for its entire lifespan as to guarantee structural integrity and stability when used with the exception of cantilevers and accordion ladders. This new design in the other hand, is powered by hydraulics and designed to work under power outages if needed.

Source: Cheddar & Nerigo Company

trapped on fire escape of burning building

Firefighters rescue people trapped on fire escape of burning building in New Jersey



Firefighters made a dramatic rescue in New Jersey Tuesday morning as they helped people trapped on the fire escape of a burning building.

The third-alarm fire broke out on the first floor of a 4-story building on Kennedy Boulevard in Union City.

The blaze quickly raced through the building when the flames traveled through a void in the walls.

16 families live in the building and all made it out safely but had to make a harrowing escape, as the halls filled with smoke.

They went out to the fire escape but needed help to get down from the building.

“I opened up the door and couldn’t see anything, it was just black smoke,” said resident Jacob Wilkins. “So I broke through the kitchen window and got everybody out onto the fire escape. Once I got onto the fire escape I realized the ladder was jammed, it would not go down so we ended up standing out there. They were breaking windows, glass was falling on top of us. ”

He said firefighters had to cut a fence down in the backyard to put another ladder up to rescue those who were trapped..

“I thought I was gonna die,” said resident Valerie Lee. “It’s pretty bad, and the fire escape don’t even go down and don’t even work, so that’s really bad.”

Union City Mayor Brian Stack says an old firehouse that has been transformed into a shelter will be used to house the displaced families.

The Red Cross will also provide assistance.

Man injured in fall from fire escape

Man injured in fall from fire escape in Pilsen

Sun-Times file photo

About 10 a.m., the 39-year-old man was working on the first-floor fire escape in the 1800 block of South Blue Island when it detached from the building and he fell, according to Chicago Police.

The man was taken to Stroger Hospital, where his condition stabilized, police said.

Man injured in fall from fire escape in Pilsen

Sun-Times file photo

A man was injured in a fall from a fire escape Tuesday morning in the Pilsen neighborhood on the Near West Side.

About 10 a.m., the 39-year-old man was working on the first-floor fire escape in the 1800 block of South Blue Island when it detached from the building and he fell, according to Chicago Police.

Source: Chicago News By Jordan Owen @byjordanowen 11/21/2017, 03:54pm

County examines expensive, dangerous fire escape

One of the fire escapes at the Wapello County Courthouse goes to the third-floor main courtroom. Tests revealed the staircase is not safe.

OTTUMWA — There are ways to leave the courthouse during a fire. Just don’t flee by the fire escape — it isn’t safe.

The metal stairs outside several Wapello County Courthouse windows may be starting to pull away from that outer wall. Testing should be done every five years, a fire escape salesman and inspector from Ohio said. That was news to the county supervisors.

“I asked the fire department, and they’d never heard of it either,” said the current Wapello County Board of Supervisor’s chairman, Jerry Parker. “But it is a law. And we also want our courthouse to be safe.”

The test went poorly. These stairs are required to support 800 pounds. The fire escapes failed.

“I wouldn’t trust them to support me,” said Parker.

One way to get out to the fire escape is through a door you may have seen (it looks like a window, Parker said) in the main courtroom. There’s an exit sign right in front of it. But besides not trusting the outside metal stairs, law enforcement told the county that providing an easy access escape route in the courtroom where felony trials take place might not be a good idea.

“Really, I think they were worried someone was going to come in that way and hide a gun,” he said.

So that door had already been locked. But a brief examination of the outside of the courthouse shows multiple entry points onto the flawed fire escape. Each has an exit sign by it. None should be used. Which prompts another question: Should those signs be removed, or is that illegal?

This doesn’t mean the board automatically needs to put in new fire escapes. Since the sprinklers have been repaired, supervisors discussed, perhaps the regular steps could be the emergency exit. They’ll need some guidance on rules and what will be safest: For example, fire code may require there to be two ways to escape a burning structure.

An engineer and an architect patrolled the courthouse recently.

“They did a final walk around,” said Parker. “They’ve talked to the state fire marshal’s office and will talk to the fire department here. We should have an answer in about a week.”

Obviously, new fire escapes hadn’t figured into the budget. The estimate said a new fire escape will cost $250,000 for one. The courthouse currently needs two. What it needs to be safe during an emergency could be discussed as soon as the next supervisors’ meeting.

Source: Ottumwa Courier, contact reporter Mark Newman at or visit his Twitter page, @CourierMark.