The surprising and sad thing about these news stories that came across my desk this week is that none of these fatal fires were first-time occurrences. Four people were killed in the Ontario retirement home fire that is the subject of a current inquest, but a total of 45 people have been killed in Ontario retirement home fires since 1980 – the worst record in North America. There were fourteen people killed in a Peru rehabilitation center fire this week, and 29 more were killed in another rehab center fire in Peru in January. Nine people died in a karaoke bar fire in Busan, South Korea, and 15 more were killed in another karaoke bar fire in the same city in 2009.
Fire doors and/or egress doors played a role in all of these fires…locked and blocked exits prevented escape, working fire doors compartmentalized buildings to prevent further damage, or missing/damaged fire doors did not work as designed. It’s time for people to understand the purpose of their fire doors and egress doors, and to realize that even if annual inspections of these doors are not yet being required in their jurisdiction, the doors still need to be properly maintained. Deficiencies must be repaired immediately. Failure to maintain fire and egress doors could impact insurance claims and lawsuits.
Fatal fire had help: INQUEST – The Barrie Examiner – 05/04/12
Mak investigated a “burned” door that separated a main-floor lounge from a corridor the owner had added, under direction from the Orillia Fire Department. None of the residents in the south addition beyond that door died in the fire. The lack of fire doors in the original part of the building (built in 1914), where the fire originated, was among the violations under the Ontario Fire Code, said Mak. To slow the spread of fire, there must be doors to close it in and safe corridors and exits for people to get out, Mak said Thursday.
See also: Black smoke filled room ‘from floor to ceiling’ during deadly retirement home fire, inquest hears – National Post – 04/16/12
Fire at Peru rehab center kills 14 – Boston.com – 05/05/12
Rescue efforts were complicated by locked doors and barred windows, said fire chief Fernando Campos. “The doors were padlocked shut. We had to use tools to get in the front door. On the second floor, the windows have bars,” he told reporters at the scene.
See also: Peru drug rehabilitation clinic fire kills 14– BBC News – 05/05/12
Karaoke fire in Busan kills 9, injures 10 – Yonhap New Agency – 05/06/12
The blaze broke out in one of the 26 rooms at the karaoke lounge on the third floor of a six-story building in the southeastern port city around 8:55 p.m. Saturday, causing smoke to spread quickly through the facility and customers to panic, witnesses and police said. Police said smoke apparently made customers unable to find exits and led to the large toll.
See also: Busan fire reflects lack of safety measures at karaoke boxes – The Dong-A Ilbo – 05/07/12
This story had a happier ending:
Cops save family from Rockaway Beach fire after broken door traps them inside – New York Post – 05/05/12
The officers went to the sixth-floor apartment, and found the cylinder had broken inside the door lock, trapping a baby, a boy, their mom, and two visitors inside. “They were trapped inside because of the lock,” said ESU Detective Hassan Hamdy, 38, who lives in Suffolk County. Det. Hamdy used a hydraulic drill to force the door open with Det. Frank Schomaker. Twelve cops searched the smoke-filled apartment for the fire victims.
See also: Police officers rescue 5 people from Queens blaze – New York Times – 05/05/12