According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, there were 95,000 apartment structure fires and 104,000 nonresidential structure fires in 2016. While the numbers have proven to fluctuate from year to year and decade to decade, fires continue to be a concern that demands our attention. That is why it is difficult to find fault with the organizations, municipalities, and governments charged with creating and upholding safety regulations and ordinances.
A recent story in Kansas City, MO spotlighted that kind of enforcement when the Kansas City Fire Department issued emergency orders. The result of failing to comply would potentially put residents out on the streets, forcing them to leave their condo homes. The primary culprit for creating the stress, tension and potential risk is a faulty fire detection system. As the story reports, management has been ordered to, “…fix the fire alarm and sprinkler systems, make a plan of action to fix other violations and establish a 24-hour fire watch.”
Lessons from Fire Prevention
It is very uncommon to hear about stories or reports of fires that were stopped, or lives that were saved because of fire detection and prevention systems. While there are a few of those rare gems out there, sadly the world, the press, and the media love a good tragedy which is exactly what we get on the evening news or on our latest news feed. Stories like the one above, however, that threaten the homes of people and that create great risk for building structures and owners should act as a lesson for us.
This isn’t about some old, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” adage. This is about safety, common sense and responsibility. Although the idea of throwing residents out of their homes is harsh, the consequence feared is far worse. With regards to the management of this particular condominium, they have stated that vandalism is the problem and one they are working to find a solution.
In light of these facts, a 24-hour fire watch in addition to correcting the current violations of the fire code seems more than appropriate. Maybe this isn’t a story with a villain and a hero and perhaps there shouldn’t be because this is about something else. At the end of the day, despite how much we are drawn to look at the plane crash or trainwreck, or a burning building, it isn’t something we ever want to see.