Fire Safety and Prevention

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  • 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 ...
  • Advances in fire alarm technology December 20, 2016 Fire alarm technology is an important consideration for any apartment building owner today. By installing a current system featuring the latest advances, facility owners and managers can better commit to the safety of an apartment building’s occupants and help to increase operational efficiency. Addressable notification technology for fire alarm systems uses targeted audio messaging that guides apartment residents to safety and offers directional assistance in a range of emergency situations, including weather related issues or external threats. This technology helps ...
  • Comply with Fire Alarm Requirements! (WA) December 8, 2016 It’s cold outside, so thoughts turn to fire. As Q13 reported last month, Snohomish County fire officials recently confirmed that fifteen local condominium and apartment buildings are not updated with legally required fire alarms. The compliance crackdown came about a year after a fire killed a person in their Everett apartment on New Year’s Eve. The building involved in that tragedy did not have a sprinkler system, which allowed the fire to spread through the attic.      Read the ...
  • Engineering underway to fix condo sprinklers systems in Sunrise Beach (MO) November 28, 2016 Engineering is underway to fix water system issues at three condominium buildings in the Shawnee Bend area of Camden County after state and local code agencies found that the system was inadequate to feed the buildings’ sprinklers along with other issues.     Read the article…………..
  • Turkey Deep-Fryers in Condominiums: Crispy and Delicious but Bad for You Financially November 26, 2016 Deep fried turkey combines the deliciousness of a well-cooked turkey with the crispiness of deep-fried goodness. Thanksgiving is one of the few opportunities many families have to enjoy a deep-fried turkey because of the time and attention needed to use a deep-fryer, especially one able to handle a ten pound turkey. What can go wrong?  Thanksgiving is the peak day in the United States for home cooking fires, and frying foods increases the risk of a cooking fire.     Read ...
  • 15 apartment complexes, condo buildings found violating fire alarm requirements (WA) November 21, 2016 Fire officials in Snohomish County said more than a dozen condo buildings and apartment complexes aren’t updated with legally required fire alarms.  The compliance crackdown comes nearly a year after a fire killed a person in their Everett apartment on New Year’s Eve.    Read the article…………….
  • Engineering underway to fix condo sprinklers systems in Sunrise Beach (MO) November 21, 2016 Engineering is underway to fix water system issues at three condominium buildings in the Shawnee Bend area of Camden County after state and local code agencies found that the system was inadequate to feed the buildings’ sprinklers along with other issues.   Read the article…………….
  • Last Call for Opt-Out: Summary of Condominium Sprinkler Retrofit Requirements and Opt-Out Provisions (FL) November 16, 2016 The deadline for opting-out of the Condominium Sprinkler Retrofitting Requirements is December 31, 2016. The following is a general summary of the state of the law for those who still need to opt–out or who want to review whether they have complied. It is important that each condominium association make its own decision on how to handle the matter by relying upon its own advice of counsel and life safety engineer.
  • New restrictions for grills on condo and apartment decks (MO) November 1, 2016 No charcoal grills will be allowed on decks and balconies of condos and apartments in Osage Beach effective Jan. 1 unless there is a sprinkler system in place on the decks.  But gas grills got a reprieve if certain rules are followed.  That was the decision made by the Osage Beach Fire Protection District Board of Directors recently after many discussions including hosting a public hearing to seek input on a variety of Fire Safety Committee recommendations.     Read the ...
  • Fire Sprinkler Retrofitting (FL) October 24, 2016 As you may be aware, the deadline for condominium associations to vote to forego retrofitting with a fire sprinkler system is rapidly approaching.  Section 718.112(2)(l), Florida Statutes, requires certain condominium associations to retrofit their common elements, association property, and units with a fire sprinkler system in accordance with Chapter 633 (“Florida’s Fire Prevention Code”) and any other code, statute, ordinance, administrative rule, or regulation relating to a fire sprinkler system. Compliance may require substantial costs      Read the article…………..
  • Planning for Wildfire in the Wildland-Urban Interface, Part 3: Defining the Wildland-Urban Interface, and Why It Matters October 21, 2016 The “wildland-urban interface” is a term commonly used but seldom precisely understood. There is good reason for that: the meaning of the term varies tremendously. There are at least three important ways to think about the WUI: as a policy definition; as a legal definition; and as a variable concept that changes along with development patterns over time. This variation does not indicate the term is “meaningless”; it does mean, however, that context matters and such context must be closely ...
  • Jackson Oaks gains fire safety recognition (CA) October 19, 2016 Obtaining a rare neighborhood fire safety recognition has helped one east Morgan Hill neighborhood not only protect itself from a potential out-of-control blaze, but it has also helped strengthen community bonds among residents, according to participants.  The Jackson Oaks Homeowners Association recently earned the national Firewise Communities/USA recognition from the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association. Firewise is a nationwide initiative that provides formal recognition to communities that take actions to protect people and properties from the risk of fire in ...
  • Four Seasons condo complex gets proactive about fire safety (MO) October 19, 2016 Harry Maier, a member of the Waters Edge Condo Association, told the Four Seasons Board of Trustees last week that his association has taken several steps to reduce the chance of a fire and has reached out to three large property management firms to encourage their cooperation.    Read the article…………..
  • Four steps to improve local wildfire planning (ID) October 17, 2016 The price of wildfire has never been higher. In 1995, fire made up 16 percent of the U.S. Forest Service’s annual appropriation budget; in 2015, wildfire consumed more than 50 percent of the agency’s budget. But the price of fire is also told in lost recreational opportunities, scarred landscapes adjacent to city centers, loss of wildlife habitat, presence of invasive species and, increasingly, after-effects such as flood and landslides, that can cause even greater long-term harm to a community than ...
  • Hidden Dangers and Quick Tips to Keep Properties Safe from Electrical Fires October 11, 2016 It’s officially Fire Prevention Week (October 9 – 15, 2016), a regularly recognized campaign organized by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to stress the importance of fire safety and preventative measures for home owners. According to the National Archives and Records Administration’s Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is actually the longest running public health and safety observance on record. With this in mind, the NFPA and various organizations across the country continue to leverage this week as a ...
  • Planning for Wildfire in the Wildland-Urban Interface, Part 1: An Overview of WUI Wildfire Planning October 4, 2016 On the blog, I plan to offer a series of posts that convey much of what we learned, and what we propose, that is applicable to wildfire planning not just to Idaho, but to communities throughout the West. Through the project, we also came to believe that wildfire planning is still very much in its infancy; for that reason, we are calling this guide a “Discussion Draft.” Over the next two years, we will be engaged in a variety of ...
  • Residents donate to stay firewise (MA) September 27, 2016 Times have changed but the risks haven’t, and scientific research shows the best defense against wildfires still starts at home, across individual backyards and property lines. And the citizens of Pinetop Community Association (PCA) are leading that charge for the White Mountains.  Last week, PCA’s board of directors presented Pinetop Fire Department with a donation of $20,000 for the fire district to support and protect its Firewise Community status.   Read the article………….
  • Epic Residences condo association sues developer, architect and subcontractors over incompatible fire safety system (FL) September 26, 2016 Another prominent developer is facing allegations of installing a faulty fire sprinkler system in a South Florida luxury condo tower. This time, litigation surrounds Ugo Colombo’s CMC Group’s Epic Residences in downtown Miami.  In a lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court last month, the Epic West Condominium Association accuses CMC, architecture firm RVL Architecture & Design and two subcontractors of breach of statutory implied warranties, breach of contract, negligence and violations of the Florida building code over alleged construction defects ...
  • Moving From Suggestions To Mandates To Cut Wildfire Risk For Rural Homes September 17, 2016 Some Northwest cities, counties and private developers are going beyond the minimums in the state building codes to reduce wildfire risk. They’re banning shingle roofs and requiring fire-resistant siding. They’re also making homeowners mind their landscaping.  Developer Chris Heftel made an interesting choice when he converted a forested hillside and grazing land into a gated community called River Bluff Ranch. There are websites and brochures full of advice for how to build in wildfire country like this. In this development ...
  • Tips to Help Homeowners Association Residents Prevent Kitchen Fires September 13, 2016 Fire can be a fear of residents within a homeowners association. They can break out in all sorts of situations, so it’s always good to remind owners in your community about fire safety.  Did you know that nearly two-thirds of all kitchen fires start on the range or cook top? To prevent fires in your kitchen, here are some helpful tips to pass along to members in your Association:     Read the article………….
  • The 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Florida Fire Sprinkler Retrofits September 10, 2016 As the 12/31/16 deadline for Florida high-rises to opt out of a full sprinkler retrofit looms large, the confusion regarding which multifamily buildings should opt out, why and what the consequences of that opt out vote will be escalates.  Here are the top five questions I’ve been asked over the last several months from condominium and cooperative associations throughout Florida.    Read the article…………..
  • DeBordieu completes 5 years as Firewise community August 31, 2016 Blanche Brown, general manager of the DeBordieu Colony Community Association, said that over the last five years, DeBordieu residents have committed time, effort and resources to mitigate the risks to their homes and landscape from wildfire.  “Since we are located between two large, undeveloped forested tracts of land, being firewise is very important to us,” Brown said. “It provides safety for our residents and also helps control wildlife in the community.”    Read the article………….
  • Condo owners at three Sunrise Beach (MO) area buildings facing evacuation for inadequacies of water supply to sprinklers August 23, 2016 Condo owners at three Sunrise Beach area buildings are facing evacuation of all units under an emergency injunction if inadequacies of the water system to supply fire protection sprinklers are not resolved in the next few weeks.     Read the article…………..
  • The Condominium Fire Sprinkler Retrofit – A Continuing Saga (FL) August 17, 2016 Each week, I receive a multitude of calls and e-mails from condominium association clients, and non-clients alike, regarding the condominium fire sprinkler retrofit requirements. The confusion arises because of a 2010 amendment to section 718.112 of the Florida Statutes which, prior to 2010, provided an opportunity to condominium associations whose condominium building was greater than 75 feet in height, to opt-out of the requirement to retrofit the condominium with fire safety sprinklers.    Read the article……………
  • Sunrise Beach condo owners warned of water sprinkler (fire) system problem (MO) August 12, 2016 Condo owners at three Sunrise Beach area condominiums are facing a significant life-safety issue after it was found recently that the water supply system for the sprinkler systems is inadequate.   West Side Bay, Nantucket Bay and RCR condominiums are all on the same private water system in the Route TT area. At its July 20 meeting, the Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District Board of Directors approved letters be sent to condo unit owners officially notifying them that their sprinklers will ...
  • Older high-rise condos, co-ops must vote to opt out or install fire sprinklers (FL) August 7, 2016 One major fallout of the quiet session was the lack of any new bill extending the ability of associations to take a membership opt-out vote to avoid having to install expensive fire sprinklers in high-rise residences. In the past, every few years the Legislature amended the applicable statute which extended the opt-out vote since 2002. The last amendment was in 2010 wherein Section 718.112(2)(l), Florida Statutes now reads:    Read the article………….
  • Late night condo fire serves as a good reminder for fire safety (MI) August 4, 2016 In the early morning hours on Monday, the Orion Township Fire Department responded to the report of a condo on fire in the 1900 block of Country Lane near Joslyn and Scripps. Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies were the first on the scene and reported smoke coming from the front door and flames charging from the rear of the condo. Deputies connected with the homeowners who were outside while other deputies began evacuating tenants from the adjoining condos.     Read the article…………..