Fire Safety and Prevention

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  • White Mountain communities embrace Firewise (AZ) October 3, 2017 In 1997, the term “Firewise” was coined by the National Fire Protection Association in response to catastrophic wildfires like ones that claimed 1,400 homes in the United States.  Firewise means having a defensible space against fire.  But what exactly does that mean?  Two members of the Pinetop Community Association (a homeowners’ association) Firewise Committee, Webmaster Bob Stratman and President Gloria Mundy explained.  Firewise creates a defensible space around homes and structures. It is a mind set.    Read the article……………………
  • Fire safety concerns delay Milford Township condo plan (MI) September 27, 2017 The project received preliminary site plan approval from planning officials last month, then hit a snag at the township board meeting Sept. 20, when Fire Chief Thomas Moore said there wasn’t enough room allowed in the plans for fire trucks to turn around.  William Mazzara, trustee and board liaison to the planning commission, said it was “highly unusual” to receive site plan suggestions “this late in the game.”     Read the article…………..
  • Some Honolulu High Rises Don’t Need Sprinklers, Fire Safety Panel Says (HI) September 27, 2017 The Residential Fire Safety Advisory Committee, formed by the Honolulu City Council in August after the Marco Polo fire, is exploring ways to retrofit at least some residential high rises in Honolulu with sprinkler systems without breaking the bank for condo owners and associations.  The 15-member panel presented options that would exempt some high rises from a requirement to install sprinklers to the council’s Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee on Tuesday.     Read the article………….
  • Chalet Village seeks to rebuild Firewise (TN) September 20, 2017 One of the Gatlinburg neighborhoods hit hard by the November 2016 wildfires is trying to rebuild and landscape in a way that reduces the risk from flames in the future.  Pete Jucker’s home was one of hundreds incinerated in the Chalet Village area north of the Gatlinburg Bypass. He has kept a positive outlook knowing his loved ones escaped safely.    Read the article……………
  • 5 Ways Hawaii Condo Dwellers Can Protect Themselves September 19, 2017 When I accompanied our daughter in her search to buy a condominium in Honolulu a few years ago, we didn’t even think to ask the real estate agent if the unit we liked had a fire sprinkler system or how much fire insurance the building association had purchased or if there were regularly scheduled fire drills.    Read the article…………….
  • What else can be done to prevent deadly high rise fires? (HI) September 17, 2017 That’s the question many had at a community meeting on Saturday about fire safety in residential buildings.  City council members requested the meeting following the fire that killed three people as it tore through the Marco Polo building in July.  The blaze left dozens of others homeless.  Mayor Caldwell has proposed a bill to retrofit older residential buildings with sprinklers, but not everyone agrees that’s the answer.     Read the article……………..
  • Condo Smarts: Gas appliances can present a vexing issue for strata September 7, 2017 Dear Tony: Our strata is debating the safety of outdoor gas appliances and considering a bylaw to completely ban their use. Since 2001, we have had two incidents involving gas barbecues: One, an exploded glass balcony wall and another where there was over $20,000 in damage caused by a fire on the balcony of a unit with wicker furniture.  We have a group of vigilant owners who claim it is their right to have a barbecue and gas patio heater ...
  • Crazy House Rules Sometimes Make a Lot of Sense (NY) September 6, 2017 At a co-op in Woodside, Queens, the house rules include a prohibition against locks with keys on bedroom doors. “Why would such a rule exist?” a mystified shareholder writes to the Ask Real Estate column in the New York Times. “And can we really expect the Co-op Bedroom Police to invade our bedrooms to check if we are locking our doors with the illicit locks? Why would they care?”    Read the article…………..
  • We Must Work Together To Make Honolulu Safer After Fatal Condo Fire (HI) September 5, 2017 The fatal fire at the Marco Polo Condominium drew international attention to the longstanding issue of how best to protect Honolulu residents living in high-rises without fire sprinklers.  There are 358 residential high-rise condominium properties, as well as hundreds of other residential structures over 75 feet tall that do not have fire sprinkler systems, according to the Honolulu Fire Department. Any high-rise built in Honolulu before 1974 was not required to retrofit for fire sprinklers.     Read the article……………
  • Fire, Code, Restoration & Safety Tips September 2, 2017 Annually, as Fire Prevention Week approaches in October, billboards, public service announcements and the like pop up and heighten our awareness about the dangers of fire. Maybe your local fire department had an open house and the kids learned about what to do in a fire. All these things spark greater than usual interest, maybe even curiosity toward the subject. Fire safety around the home tends to get the spotlight in October, but fire and its insidious exponential growth needs ...
  • Condo residents seek cheaper option in making fire-protection upgrades (FL) September 1, 2017 A state law is supposed to make condos safer from fire, but most buildings plan to save money by protecting only their common areas, not individual units.  The law requires condo buildings taller than 75 feet and built before 1994 to either install sprinklers in each unit or fortify fire protection to the satisfaction of a safety inspector.  Giving condo buildings a second option — where they pass a safety inspection with modern fire codes in mind — was seen ...
  • Condo residents worried about financial troubles to possibly result from fire safety bill (FL) August 31, 2017 When it comes to condo living, Florida ranks as one of the states with the most buildings per capita in the nation.  Much of that growth has come in the past two decades, but there are thousands of buildings that have been in the area dating back 30 years or more.  Residents of some of the buildings are caught in the throes of a legislative battle involving a fire safety bill that may cost them thousands of dollars or even ...
  • Smoke Alarms Not Working In Fatal Condo Fire (IL) August 21, 2017 Bloomington-Normal residents were reminded Monday to check their smoke detectors after authorities released the cause of a fatal condo fire in Normal.  Diana McLaren-Osburne, 68, was killed in the fire Aug. 6 at her condo at 1538 Hunt Drive in Normal. The fire “was likely caused by open flame ignition of combustible materials in the area of the stove top,” Normal fire officials said in a statement Monday. The fire spread to the cabinets and eventually through to the roof. ...
  • Governor Vetoes House Bill 653 (FL) August 2, 2017 One of the most talked about community association legislative bills this session was House Bill 653 (HB 653), which proposed changes to the Condominium Act and the Homeowners Association Act. Gov. Rick Scott vetoed HB 653 at 7:55 p.m. on June 26. HB 653 had many changes, one of which was an amendment easing the fire-protection requirements for condominium buildings in Florida.    Read the article………….
  • HI Officials Discuss Sprinklers in Wake of Deadly Blaze July 26, 2017 Firefighters and condominium owners Tuesday met before a City Council committee for the first time since the July 14 Marco Polo fire left three people dead, discussing potential incentives for, as well as obstacles in the way of, retrofitting aging residential towers with sprinkler systems.  The Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee, meanwhile, moved out Resolution 17-195, calling on Mayor Kirk Caldwell to convene a residential fire safety advisory committee in hopes of avoiding a repeat of the Marco Polo ...
  • No Sprinkler Systems, More Costly Damage in Oahu high-rises July 24, 2017 While the actual damage amounts were relatively small, the dramatic difference in losses between the two types of buildings is likely to fuel the debate on whether the city should require old residential high-rises to install automatic sprinkler systems.   Read the article………….
  • Old Paradise Pines Golf Course now a fire hazard? (CA) July 23, 2017 The same residents who were once drawn to live near a lush green golf course in Magalia now look out their back windows in fear.  Dead grass and overgrown weeds have turned the former fairways of the Paradise Pines Golf Course into a 40-acre fire hazard.  Backing up to yards on either side of the course, the former nine-hole spread could pose an immediate threat to hundreds of residents as it stretches through the heavily wooded area.  Wildfires popping up ...
  • Caldwell proposes mandating sprinkler systems for older high-rise condo buildings (HI) July 18, 2017 Three days after a major fire killed three people at the Marco Polo condominium complex, Mayor Kirk Caldwell has sent the City Council a proposal to require high-rise residential buildings without automatic fire sprinklers to install them.
  • Deadly Hawaii fire raises concerns about lack of sprinklers in older high-rises across the U.S. July 16, 2017 Moon Yun Pellerin was still in shock as she sat on a bench Saturday morning in the crowded lobby of her Honolulu high-rise. Her home on the 27th floor — owned by her 78-year-old mother who has dementia — had been destroyed when the raging fire broke out.  “We’re homeless now,” said the dazed 49-year-old, who lived in a condo with sweeping views of the city and Koolau mountains with her mother, husband and cat, Sugar.    Read the article……………….
  • Fire sprinkler system considered too costly at Honolulu condo tower (HI) July 15, 2017 The fire that killed three people at the Marco Polo Apartments condominium tower in Honolulu could have been less severe if the building had a sprinkler system in place.  Residents began returning to the 36-story tower on Saturday after Friday’s five-alarm fire tore through parts of the 26th and 27th floors, leaving 12 units “heavily damaged,” the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. Those floors, plus a few other upper floors were closed off on Saturday, a security employee told the newspaper.   Read ...
  • Condo Balcony Fires July 12, 2017 Toronto Fire Services recently held a press conference about the increasing number of fires on condo balconies caused by cigarettes being carelessly tossed from balconies. At the time of the press conference, there had been 27 balcony fires causing over $300,000 in property damage, in comparison to a total of 25 balcony fires in all of 2016. Lit cigarette butts are landing on combustible materials, such as patio furniture and potted plants, on balconies below. Some residents are also causing ...
  • Fanning the flames: Naples condos fight fire codes while Marco complies (FL) July 12, 2017 At the high-rise condos that dot the Naples and Marco Island skylines, the threat of a deadly fire is real. Without proper fire prevention equipment, a blaze could consume any of the buildings, some 50 years old, that are symbols of the area’s retirement lifestyle.  At least, that’s the threat that Naples Fire Marshal Bob Rogers sees, and its his job to ensure high-rises meet national fire safety standards, adopted in Florida law, requiring all condo towers taller than 75 ...
  • Residents of old high-rise condos in Naples balk at fire prevention costs (FL) July 7, 2017 At the high-rise condos that dot the Naples skyline, the threat of a deadly fire is real. Without proper fire prevention equipment, a blaze could consume any of the buildings, some 50 years old, that are symbols of the retirement lifestyle along Gulfshore Boulevard North.  At least, that’s the threat that Naples Fire Marshal Bob Rogers sees.  But some condo residents, concerned about the cost of improving their buildings to meet fire safety standards, say the threat of such a ...
  • ‘It Has Made Us a Better Community’ July 5, 2017 Eddie Hurt has been president of the Mountain Shadows Community Association since shortly after the Waldo Canyon Fire. In that role, he’s played an active part in the effort to rebuild Mountain Shadows, the neighborhood that he and his family have called home for 12 years. Unlike some of his neighbors, Hurt didn’t lose his home in the fire, but that’s not to say he wasn’t affected.    Read the article…………..
  • Hundreds of goats are teaching Castle Pines high schoolers a thing or two about fire mitigation (CO) June 29, 2017 A herd of 300 goats has taken over the Pine Ridge neighborhood in Castle Pines, and surprisingly, residents are happy about it. In fact, they invited them in.  The unique form of wildfire mitigation has been chomping away at the open space since Saturday, eating tall grasses and clearing brush.    Read the article…………..
  • Condo Fire Awareness June 27, 2017 The devastating fire in London’s Grenfell Tower a few weeks ago put the focus on safety measures in residential buildings. Questions about the structure’s recent refurbishing, safety features, and policies for residents during emergencies continue to emerge. Many dwellers and experts say stricter measures could have saved many lives and caused less damage to property.   Read the article……………
  • We’re entering fire season. Here’s how to keep your home safe (ID) June 8, 2017 Residents of the Meadow Ridge subdivision enjoy a lifestyle somewhere between urban and rural.  A brushy expanse separates the community from the nearby Canyon Rim Trail and Snake River Canyon. Here, a snake glided lazily across a cheat grass-lined dirt path on Wednesday while birds and butterflies flitted in sagebrush.  Examining the dry grass, Gloria Gott explained how all it would take is one lightning bolt — or a dragging chain from a vehicle above Shoshone Falls Grade — to ...
  • Goats to reduce Castle Pine’s fire risk one bite at a time (CO) May 31, 2017 You may see hundreds of goats in Castle Pines by the end of the month as they chomp down the risk of fire near the Douglas County community.  South Metro Fire Rescue, along with Pine Ridge Homeowners Association, will be bringing the goats to multiple locations to graze on weeds and shrubs that have swallowed up acres of open space.  The goats were in Castle Pines last year, and the animals’ boundless appetite proved to be a success. This year, ...
  • Fire Sprinklers Getting A Boost At Three Lakefront Condo Complexes (MO) May 11, 2017 Three lakefront condo complexes are taking the next step to upgrade their fire sprinklers.  The Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District has approved plans for upgrades to the TT water system that supplies the fire sprinklers to the Nantucket Bay, Westside Bay, and RCI Condominium complexes on Route TT in Sunrise Beach.  The fire district, working with a professional fire protection engineer had determined that the water supply to these sprinkler systems would not meet the performance criteria in the local ...
  • Mystic Shores on Path to Firewise Certification (NJ) May 5, 2017 Mystic Shores, an active adult community in Little Egg Harbor, is starting the qualification process to become a Firewise Community/USA. The program goal, according to homeowners association member Karen Yock, is to implement fire mitigation concepts wherever possible.  “We are using a five-step process that includes developing an action plan that will bring our community into compliance with the National Wildfire Coordinating Group,” she writes.    Read the article………….
  • Fireplace and Chimney Problems, Tips & Prevention April 18, 2017 Most folks consider their fireplaces and chimneys to be indestructible parts of their home that require little or no maintenance. While masonry work is generally as close to maintenance-free as you can get, fireplaces and chimneys are more than just works of masonry: they are a part of your home’s heating system, which must effectively exhaust fumes from your fireplace, furnace and water heater.  Relatively minor but regular maintenance efforts can help your chimney operate safely for an indefinite period ...
  • Home Fire Safety for Older Adults April 18, 2017 The U.S. fire problem is severe. Each year, home fires result in a significant number of deaths and injuries. Older adults are burdened with the gravest fire risk, and are consistently more threatened with injury or death by fire than any other age group. Raising awareness among older adults is the key to reducing home fires and preventing deaths. This multi-faceted home fire safety awareness program provides tools to educate older adults and their families nationwide about home fire hazards ...
  • Survive the Unthinkable: If a Wildfire Threatens Your Home April 18, 2017 Families in some areas of Wyoming can be safe and secure one day and have their lives turned upside down by wildfires the next. To increase your safety and preparedness, we offer the following.  Ready– Preparing for the fire threat.  Be ready, be firewise, and create defensible space. Prepare before the threat of a wildfire so you, other family members, and your house are ready. Assemble emergency supplies and belongings in a safe spot. Make sure everyone living within the ...
  • How to Prepare for a Wildfire April 18, 2017 Wildfires can occur anywhere and can destroy homes, businesses, infrastructure, natural resources, and agriculture. How to Prepare for a Wildfire explains how to protect yourself and your property, and details the steps to take now so that you can act quickly when you, your home, or your business is in danger   Read the PDF…………..
  • Fire Sprinkler Installation and Earthquake Retrofit – Are They Reserve Account Expenses? April 10, 2017 Without a doubt installation of fire sprinklers and earthquake retrofits make buildings safer and could save lives when and if they should ever be needed. Some municipalities have passed rules for installation/upgrading/modernization of these systems but most have chosen to forego putting anything into law as the cost to the owner(s) of the building can be very high. The question we are tackling from our perspective is; should the installation of these systems be paid for from the Reserve Account? ...
  • North Side neighbors clear brush, protect against wildfire (TX) April 9, 2017 A spark of community spirit could help save a North Side neighborhood from the spark of a wildfire.  Volunteers from the El Chapparal/Fertile Valley Homeowners Association gathered Saturday for a day of clearing brush. Helped by the San Antonio Fire Department and a chipper provided by the Texas A&M Forest Service, they collected and disposed of brush near a city right-of-way, hoping to reduce the wildfire risk in the area.     Read the article……………
  • Flathead Valley Homeowners, Agencies Prepare For Fire Season (MT) April 4, 2017 After that early visit and evaluation, Baginski spent three years clearing brush from within twenty feet of his house. Some of his neighbors started doing the same thing. Soon he was inviting Ulwelling and other fire experts to homeowners association meetings to connect his neighbors with grants and resources available to them.  “We had an unbelievable response, of something like 92 percent of all property owners opted to have the DNRC come in and evaluate their property, at no charge,” ...
  • HRCA receives settlement for October fire in Backcountry (CO) March 30, 2017 The Highlands Ranch Community Association has received a settlement for the wildfire in Highlands Ranch that it says was caused by Xcel Energy last October, an HRCA official announced at a March 21 board of directors and delegate meeting.  Citing a confidentiality agreement, Xcel Energy officials declined to say how the fire started.  The Oct. 28 fire scorched 211 acres of land east of Santa Fe Drive and south of East Wildcat Reserve Parkway, including open space owned by the ...
  • Homeowners Anxious for Hydrants After Massive Fire (NC) March 29, 2017 People who live in a Mint Hill neighborhood are anxious to finally have more fire hydrants near their homes.  Last week, a fire destroyed one home. Firefighters had to truck in water from nearly a mile away.  Charlotte Water has been working for the past year to get more hydrants in the Ashe Plantation neighborhood.  The Homeowners Association President says there has been holdups in the permitting process.    Read the article………….
  • Fire Safety Education for Your Neighborhood March 17, 2017 When it comes to having a safe and peaceful community, it is the responsibility of everyone in the community to do their part to keep themselves and others safe. That is why education is so important in a close environment.  In the area of fire safety, every little bit helps. Here are some tips for keeping the community educated and equipped for fire emergencies.     Read the article…………..
  • After Langley condo fire, sprinkler rules change March 15, 2017 The provincial government has tightened sprinkler regulations for four-storey wood-frame buildings in the wake of a fire that gutted a Langley condo.  The update to the BC Building Code will require fire sprinklers on balconies.  When the Paddington Station condo fire broke out in December, it began on a fourth-floor balcony.  The fire, suspected to have been started by a cigarette or other smoking materials, then spread up and into the attic, which also did not have sprinklers.   Read the ...
  • Condominiums May Still Need to Install Engineered Life Safety System After Opting Out of Fire Sprinkler Retrofit March 6, 2017 As our regular readers are aware from our previous posts on the subject, there are many questions Florida condominium associations face in determining whether their buildings must be retrofitted with a fire sprinkler system or Engineered Life Safety System (“ELSS”). While many Florida condominium associations voted to opt-out of installing fire sprinkler systems, there may still be an obligation for associations to install an ELSS. Despite well-intentioned attempts from the Florida Legislature, Department of Business and Professional Regulation, local fire ...
  • Fire chief: Sprinklers extinguished fire in Park Ridge condo trash chute (IL) February 17, 2017 Park Ridge Fire Chief Jeff Sorensen credits sprinklers with putting out a fire and minimizing damage inside an Uptown condominium building.  The fire occurred on the evening of Feb. 12 in a trash chute located inside the Residences of Uptown at 50 N. Northwest Highway, Sorensen said.  “Multiple sprinkler heads that activated not only extinguished the fire in the chute, but upon arrival we had the dumpster at the base of the trash chute overflowing with water,” he said.   Read ...
  • Promote fire safety, not substandard condo housing for the elderly February 17, 2017 Ellyn Setnor Bogdanoff, a paid lobbyist of Florida condominium associations, in an op-ed on Feb. 14, advocated for a bill that “would allow older high-rises to opt out of an ELSS and, for those who do not or cannot, provides more time for installation of an ELSS beyond the current 2019 deadline.”  Bogdanoff is part of special interest lobbying aimed at preventing the same level of fire safety in high-rise condominium buildings for the elderly that ...
  • BBQ on the Deck? — You May Cook More Than Your Steak! January 26, 2017 Most insurance companies have a Loss Control Team that inspects communities periodically to assess potential threats. After the inspection they send a report to the board or manager with requirements and recommendations. One of the most common, and difficult items that come up in these inspections, are the BBQ grills on the decks or too close to the buildings.     Read the article………………..
  • Fire Planning Tips for Seniors January 26, 2017 A home fire is a terrifying moment for anyone, including seniors. If you are an older individual with limited mobility or impairments, it’s especially important you follow these four fire-planning tips because they could save your life.     Read the article…………..
  • Browder, Village honored for Firewise decade (AR) January 24, 2017 Participating in the Arkansas Firewise program brings benefits, Hot Springs Village Property Owners’ Association board of directors heard last Wednesday at its January board meeting.  Arkansas Forestry Commission’s Firewise information officer Sheila Doughty said helping prevent forest fires is the prime benefit of the Village’s participation in the program.   But reducing the fire risk should also help reduce the cost of building insurance for all Villagers.  Wildfire is inevitable, Doughty said, but homes need not burn if owners and ...
  • Thawing after weekend freeze setting off sprinkler systems (NC) January 10, 2017 Fayetteville firefighters have been busy the past couple of days – not because of fire, but because of ice. Sprinkler systems damaged by frozen pipes have kept them on the move.  Stewart’s Creek Condominiums has one of more than two dozen buildings in Fayetteville that was damaged when frozen water pipes burst Monday and Tuesday. The damaged fire sprinkler system sent some of the ceiling and insulation in Condo 12 crashing to the floor.   Read the article……………
  • Is Your Fire Insurance Full of Hot Air? December 22, 2016 It was one of the worst fires in Catskills history: The 396-unit Grandview Palace Condominiums, formerly the fabled Brown’s Hotel in the Borscht Belt, erupted in flames on April 14, 2012. Seven of its nine buildings were destroyed, though none of the residents died or were seriously injured.  But the primary fire-insurance company declined to pay out, saying the Grandview hadn’t lived up to the terms of the contract. It was a reminder of a timeless truism: the time to ...
  • Home Tips: What You Need to Know About Fire Extinguishers December 20, 2016 You already know that home fires are more common during the holidays than at any other time of the year, with about 150 fires causing an astounding $8 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.  You’ve probably taught your children how to dial 911 in case a fire breaks out in your home, which is always the smartest call to make. But if a small, confined fire were to start in your home, you probably could ...