When I lived in a condominium complex in the mid-90’s, I don’t think I gave much thought to fire safety.  I remember hearing the fire alarm in the middle of the night and going out to my balcony to see if I could smell smoke.  If not, it must be a false alarm.  That seems CRAZY to me now.  Luckily, I lived in a fairly safe building.  The stair doors and the cross-corridor doors were never propped open.  The unit entry doors had spring hinges so they didn’t close as reliably as if they’d had closers, but thankfully we never had a fire while I lived there.  Someday when I’m helping my oldest daughter look for her first apartment, you can bet that I won’t be as lax about fire safety.  I may just zip her up in a flame resistant jumpsuit before I send her off to college.  🙂

Every time I see an apartment fire on the news now, I think about whether the fire doors had any impact.  Were they working properly and able to compartmentalize the building?  Could a fire door inspection and the repair of any deficiencies have protected the means of egress and allowed the tenants to escape?  If you aren’t convinced that apartments are at high risk for fires, just go to Google News and type in apartment fire.  Or check out these stats from the NFPA:  Apartment Structure Fires By Year.  According to the NFPA, there were 90,000 apartment fires in 2009, resulting in 465 deaths, 3,350 injuries, and $1,225,000,000 in damage.  Wow!

There was an explosion followed by a fire at this apartment building in Woodstock, Ontario last Sunday morning.  Sadly, two elderly residents are still missing.  Based on the explosion it’s unlikely that fire doors could have protected those living in the area of the explosion, but they may have helped to protect the rest of the building to allow the escape of other residents.

Oxford Sentinel ReviewEverything is gone
“There was smoke rising from where the elevator shaft used to be. I stared at it in complete disbelief,” he said. “Everything up to the fire doors was intact. Beyond that there was nothing.”  Culp said the force of the explosion forced his door open and ripped the deadbolt right off of the steel frame.

Other Stories:

CBC NewsWoodstock apartment blast leaves 2 still missing

London Free PressWoodstock Fire:  The investigation begins

Photo:  CBC News

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