City Council To Consider Mandatory Fire Escape Inspections Following Deadly Collapse Last Year
By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A deadly fire escape collapse in Center City 18 months ago has prompted a proposal in City Council to require building owners to have their fire escapes inspected every five years.
Councilman Curtis Jones says many fire escapes in Philadelphia are aging, few have ever been inspected, and some are used by tenants for smoking and carousing:
“What we find them to be morphed into are smoking lounges and party locations. And we need to make sure that they are fit for first responders and residents, to be able to navigate in the case of emergencies.”
Jones has now introduced a sweeping overhaul of the city’s slim fire escape regulations. Under his plan, building owners would have to pay for safety inspections of the structures every five years. Then the city would install medallions on the escapes that pass inspections to mark them as safe.
“They certify it. They stamp it. We put the medallion on it. And then when a fire truck comes up, and a first responder has to look up, they can look for the reflector in the day or night, and be assured that ‘I can put myself on that.’”
Under the measure, a building owner who learns that his fire escape failed an inspection would have one day to take corrective action.
The proposal was prompted by the January 2014 collapse of a fire escape at 21st and Locust Streets in Center City. One person died and two others were injured.
Jones’ measure will be debated in committee after Council’s summer recess.