The Fire Consultant and the Fire Code (Part 2)

The Fire Consultant and the Fire Code (Part 2)

So, as a business or property owner what are the ramifications of my failing to correct a fire code violation after the fire inspector leaves? In 2004, I was retained as a fire consultant by a prominent Los Angeles law firm to review a personal injury fire case involving the intentional burning of a single apartment in a multistory residential high-rise. The result of the fire was devastating. A young woman sustained serious burn injuries to her face, neck and hands while attempting to flee the burning building. Fortunately, firefighters found her in time and her life was spared.

When the arson suspect exited the room, which was now fully engulfed in flames, the door leading to the hallway was left in the open position which allowed the fire to spread into the hallway cutting off a safe path of egress to the exit staircase. As the heat and smoke accumulated in the hallway, the young women became disoriented and instead of running to the closest exit, ran directly into the flames.

During my examination of the building, I was surprised to find that a simple, but required device that automatically closes the door separating the apartment to the exit corridor was missing. Simply put, this tragedy could have been prevented provided that the hardware required by the fire code was in place.

Fire codes are written by dedicated and knowledgeable fire experts and fire consultants who have, at one time or another during their fire service career, witnessed either serious injury or the loss of life and property. Understanding and applying the provisions of fire code is crucial in preventing life and property loss. If we as a nation took the time to truly understand and seriously consider and adhere to the provisions of the fire code, without question, there would be a significant drop in the above statistics.

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