A 42-unit apartment building was destroyed by fire last week in Columbus, Ohio. The fire began in a second-floor apartment, and the door to the apartment was left open when the resident evacuated. According to investigators, fire doors in the corridor and stairwell were also propped open, allowing the smoke and flames to spread and leaving the residents no safe escape route. Ten people were taken to the hospital for treatment from smoke inhalation and injuries caused by jumping from upper-story windows. According to firefighters, the fire could have been contained to 1 or 2 units if fire doors were closed.
Apartment residents and property managers need to be educated about the purpose of their fire doors. If the fire code for a particular jurisdiction references the 2007 edition of NFPA 80 or a subsequent edition, the fire doors are required to be inspected annually. The 2013 edition of NFPA requires fire doors to be inspected after installation and after maintenance, in addition to the annual inspection requirement. If the annual inspections are enforced, it is an opportunity to look for fire doors with deficiencies including defective closers and improper hold-opens.
Building owners are responsible for keeping their fire doors and egress doors in code-compliant condition, even if the inspection requirements are not being enforced in that jurisdiction. Given the property loss in this particular fire, I’m not sure why an insurance company wouldn’t require annual inspections of fire doors to ensure that they are performing as designed and tested, and able to help prevent a fire of this magnitude the next time.
Have you seen increased enforcement of fire door inspections in your jurisdiction?
Investigators Search For Cause Of North Side Apartment Fire – WOSU
Battalion Chief David Ringley says the fire began inside of a second floor apartment. A resident who lives there noticed smoke and when he came back inside to get some belongings, he left his door open to the hallway.
Ringley says some fire doors in the hallway were also propped open.
“The doors, the smoke barriers and fire doors that lead from the corridor into the stair tower, had been blocked open prior to the fire…and that also allowed the fire and smoke to travel immediately into the stairwell, up that stairwell, got into the attic,” explains Ringley.
10 injured in apartment complex fire on North Side – The Columbus Dispatch
It was the smell of smoke that first alerted Linda Sulzbach. But only when she rushed from the North Side apartment into the hallway did she realize the danger.
The center stairwell of the three-story building, she said, roiled with fire.
“It was all complete flames,” she said. “The walls, everything. Just red fire everywhere.”
Sulzbach was among the dozens of people who escaped the fire yesterday morning at the Commons at Victoria Village, 4654 Tamarack Blvd. Some dropped their children to rescuers below before jumping out windows.
Ten people, including three children, were taken to hospitals for treatment of smoke inhalation and injuries related to their escape. All are expected to recover.
UPDATE: 3-Alarm NE Columbus Apartment Fire Ruled ‘Accidental’ – ABC On Your Side
Firefighters say fire doors designed to contain fires when closed were propped open.
If doors had been left shut, firefighters say the fire could have been contained to one or two apartments.
The roof collapsed and there’s extensive fire damage to the third floor. Several residents jumped out of windows to avoid the flames while several others had to be rescued by firefighters.
More than 150 firefighters from half a dozen departments worked to get the fire under control Tuesday morning.
Firefighters say they had seven hoses spraying one thousand gallons per minute for nearly one hour. They used so much water they had to call the water department to pump up the water pressure in the area.
“We’re extremely lucky and I think that’s because of the time frame of this fire being at 8:30 a.m.,” said Battalion Chief Tracy Smith. “If this would’ve been a three or four in the morning, I don’t think the outcome would’ve been as great.”
120 survivors of North Side apartment fire count blessings – The Columbus Dispatch
Mikesell, 26, and his father, Paul, stopped by the complex to find out when they might be able to get into the apartment to see whether anything is salvageable.
He said apartment officials told him the building will be condemned and that some first- and second-floor residents might be allowed to retrieve personal items by the end of the week.
Mikesell said he was sleeping on Tuesday morning when he heard a person telling someone to jump.
“I opened the door and the whole hallway was filled with grayish-black smoke,” he said. “People were screaming. I couldn’t see anything.”
Mikesell said a woman ran into his apartment, and he threw his TV through his bedroom window so they could climb out.