Wednesday, July 26, 2017

London Apartment Fire Highlights Risks

Last month, a deadly fire raged for three days in an apartment building in London. The Grenfell Tower fire resulted in dozens of fatalities and outrage across the United Kingdom about the lack of fire safety mechanisms in place in the building. Stateside, property managers are giving their own smoke detectors, sprinklers and emergency plans a hard look.

The Grenfell Tower fire broke out in the middle of the night, with emergency crews arriving on site around 1:00 in the morning. By then, the fire had already raged to uncontrollable levels. Debris falling from the tower forced emergency personnel to relocate to a safer spot, with fears that the tower might collapse at any moment. 

When the fire was finally extinguished three days later, more than 80 people had died. Tragically, residents had raised concerns about the building's safety long before the fire ever broke out. Power surges had caused electronics in the building to explode for years, and without multiple evacuation routes, residents feared for the worst. No sprinkler system existed in the building and fire extinguishers hadn't been inspected in years.

It's not clear what consequences the managers and owners of the tower will face in the aftermath of the fire, but we can only hope more will be done to prevent future accidents like this one.

So what can property managers take away from this horrific incident? At the very least, says Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management, landlords should take extra precaution to inspect the community's emergency procedures. Reviewing steps to take in a fire or weather emergency is also a good move. Remind occupants that closing doors on fires is a good first step in combating a blaze. Most walls and doors in 2017 are fire-rated and will contain flames to that room.

That doesn't mean a person should remain in their residence if a fire breaks out, though. Remind tenants to have their own personal emergency plan of action should a kitchen accident go up in flames. Keeping a fire extinguisher nearby can also be a real life saver, but just knowing where the nearest one is located is often enough.

However you decide to prep your community for the worst case scenario, it's important that property managers do their due diligence. If an incident does occur, you'll be glad you invested your time in properly preparing for an emergency. Consider hosting a community event with pizza to review safety procedures with residents. A low-key review can truly save lives!

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management


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