I have an article in the Winter issue of Life Safety Digest that discusses the importance of fire door assemblies and inspections in multifamily residential occupancies such as apartments and condominiums.  Based on the average number of fires that occur annually in these buildings and the effects of non-compliant fire doors during past fires, I firmly believe that enforcing the annual requirements for fire door inspections will save lives.

The Importance of Fire Door Assemblies in Residential Occupancies

It is not uncommon for fires to occur in multi-family residential buildings like apartments and condominiums. In October of 2021, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) published a report which estimated that 86,000 fires occurred in US apartment buildings in 2020 – this is an average of 236 apartment fires PER DAY.  The majority of these fires resulted from five causes: cooking, heating, electrical distribution and lighting equipment, intentional fire setting, and smoking materials. The supporting documentation for the report includes tables demonstrating that the 86,000 fires caused 350 civilian deaths, 2,900 civilian injuries, and 1.6 billion dollars in property damage.

On January 9th, 2022, a fire occurred in a 19-story apartment building in the Bronx.  Reports released to date have confirmed that the open door between the apartment and the corridor allowed the fire to spread after an electric space heater ignited a mattress. Only 3 minutes after the fire alarm was activated the fire department and other emergency services began to arrive, and they found residents throughout the building suffering from smoke inhalation. Seventeen people were killed, including eight children, and 44 people were injured.

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Cover Image: Life Safety Digest

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