When I see a blocked exit, a propped-open fire door, or any of the myriad modifications that are not code-compliant, I do what I can to address the situation.  I have spoken to employees in person, sent emails to managers, and when that didn’t get results, I have asked the local fire marshal for help.

Sometimes I’ve been accused of worrying too much about a problem that will probably never occur.  What are the chances that the blocked exit will result in a fatality, or the propped-open fire door will allow smoke and flames to spread?  Admittedly, the chances are slim, but the “what-ifs” keep me awake at night.

I’m guessing that the parents who took their kids to the Winter Cherry Mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo on Sunday believed that their families were safe.  But according to news reports, a disabled fire alarm and blocked exits led to the deaths of 64 adults and children.  The speed at which the smoke filled the mall – obscuring security cameras – is hard to believe.

In an emergency, the ability to quickly evacuate can be key to survival.  Life safety is everyone’s responsibility.  If you see something, say something.


Exits were blocked at Siberian mall where fire killed 64 – The Week

As a fire spread through the Winter Cherry shopping mall in Kemerovo, Siberia, on Sunday, a security guard turned off the public address system and some people trying to escape couldn’t open fire exits because they had been illegally blocked, Russian investigators announced Monday.


‘Flagrant violations’ of safety norms cited in Siberia inferno – ABS CBN News

Investigators and witnesses said emergency exits were locked shut — notably at a multiplex cinema where children were watching cartoons — and alarm systems were not working at the Winter Cherry shopping centre in the Siberian city of Kemerovo.

“Investigators have already obtained proof of the flagrant violations that led to such serious consequences,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement.


Criminal probe launched into deadly Russian mall fire – NBC News

Russian authorities launched a criminal investigation Monday into the deadly inferno that swept through a shopping mall the day before, killing at least 64 people, some of whom were trapped by illegally blocked fire exits, according to authorities and news agencies.

Officials have not yet determined the exact cause of the blaze, which started Sunday afternoon and burned for 12 hours at the Winter Cherry mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo.


Graphic: RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

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