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Fire Safety

Protecting your family and your stuff
Fire & other disasters can ruin your day

Get started on fire safety
Here's four things you can do right now to fire proof your home
  • Know the basics of prevention, detection and escape 
  • Identify and correct fire risks in your home (see safety checklist) 
  • Educate your neighbors. Here's a series of Fire Safety Tips prepared by the City of Vancouver. 
  • Start a fire safety campaign with your family and your neighbors. Looking around your home and your building for fire hazards and then reporting them IN WRITING to the manager can keep you safe at home. 
Here's a fire safety checklist prepared by the City of Vancouver 

US Fire Administration (FEMA) reports
  • An estimated 108,400 multifamily residential building fires are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated 450 deaths, 3,800 injuries, and $1.1 billion in property loss.
  • Multifamily residential building fires account for 28 percent of all residential building fires.
  • Sixty-seven percent of multifamily residential building fires are small, confined fires.
  • Cooking is the leading cause of multifamily residential building fires (65 per cent); nearly all multifamily residential building cooking fires are small, confined fires (96 percent). See kitchen fire safety tips
  • Twenty-seven percent of nonconfined multifamily residential building fires extend beyond the room of origin. The leading causes of these larger fires are electrical malfunctions.  CLOSE THE DOORS
  • (13 percent), exposure fires (12 percent), fires caused by open flames (12 percent), and intentionally set fires (12 percent). In contrast, 46 percent of nonconfined one- and two-family residential building fires extend beyond the room of origin.
  • Multifamily residential building fires peak slightly in December (10 percent).
Dryer vents-a hidden hazard
    Clogged dryer vents can cause fires: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that lint-filled dryer vents cause over 15,000 fires per year. Clothes dryer fires also account for approximately 20 fatalities, 400 injuries, and over $100 million in property damage annually. The leading cause of these clothes dryer fires is a “failure to clean” them. If you have an electric clothes dryer, the chance of fire is 250% greater than if you have a gas dryer.
    The good news is that these fires are preventable. The cause of these fires are most frequently from two places—the dryer vent and the lint trap. Too many people think the dryer’s lint trap catches all of the lint from the laundry, but the truth is that it doesn’t. Some lint makes its way past the trap and can build up around the dryer’s heating element and in the vent. When lint accumulates in your dryer vent, it prevents air from flowing through the vent. So, be sure to clean the lint trap before and after every load.Pay attention to the warning signs that dangerous lint buildup is occurring in your dryer and venting system. Signs that something is awry include the following: clothes taking longer and longer to dry; clothes not drying fully; clothes are hotter than normal at the end of a normal drying cycle; the outside of the dryer gets very hot; laundry room becomes more humid than it is usually; and/or a burnt smell is evident in the laundry room. If you notice any of these things taking place, then a clogged dryer vent exhaust is likely the problem. More here.

Keep the fire doors closed! 
Columbus fire officials report that a recent fire in a multifamily development spread throughout the property because an escaping tenant left the apartment door open and the fire doors in the common areas were propped open. Help your neighbors understand that fire doors are there for a reason. 
Read more here

Apartment Safety in the News

RHINO providers can use models like this to raise awareness among program participants.
Keywords: Stabilize, fire safety

UL says that 30 years ago, you had up to 17 minutes to escape a house fire, but today’s homes burn faster. Why? Open floor plans provide oxygen and don’t provide barriers. And synthetic building materials and furnishings burn at a much faster rate than the natural products used decades ago. UL videotaped a dramatic side-by-side experiment that showed how rapidly a modern living room went up in flames compared with a vintage one."

June 18, 2017 Toledo Blade ‘Look for the helpers’ 

June 16, 2017  Nonprofit Quarterly The London Fire and the Privatization of Public Housing
more here

February 19, 2017 Man loses everything in Medina apartment explosion, 63 units found with gas leaks

November 5, 2016 Great fire safety story
      The Dispatch reports on neighbors' efforts to rescue tenants from burning building: "First out the third-story window came a baby, then two more children, a woman, a man and a pregnant woman. In all, Brian Smith and Corey Boykin caught, or cushioned the fall of a dozen or more people fleeing a smoke-filled apartment building this morning. 'We caught everything that came out of the window,' Smith said several hours after a fire broke out in the building at 3588 Cleveland Avenue. Clinton Township Fire Chief Brian Fraley said five people were transported, including a man Fraley thought could be in serious condition."
     The Dispatch story also reports on the work of local fire inspectors to assure that fire safety systems were replaced when the building was rehabbed several years ago.
      Moral of the story: smoke detectors, planned evacuation routes...and helpful neighbors

October 31, 2016  Grant helps buy smoke detectors for Marion residents
The Marion Star reports on a smoke detector or battery replacement project that the Marion Fire Department operates with a small foundation grant. From the story: " 'If the home does not have a detector, we install one,' said Chief Ben Meddles. 'If they already have one, we test it and, if necessary, install new batteries. We also do random checks for smoke detectors in homes when we go out on medical calls.' ”

October 18, 2016 Cincinnati Enquirer Fire escape worries prompt inspection requirement
"If you live in an old building with a fire escape, city officials have this warning for you: Be careful. They're simply not safe. In fact, city firefighters only use them as a last resort. As a result, Cincinnati City Council is poised to require all fire escapes be inspected every five years. Under the plan, fire escapes on the oldest buildings would need to be inspected by next summer."

October 29, 2015 Cincinnati Enquirer Officials: 15 displaced by Reading apartment fire
About 15 residents of a Reading apartment building were displaced after a one-alarm fire late Wednesday. Fire officials are still investigating the cause of the fire at the apartment complex at 20 Koehler Avenue, although it is believed to have been sparked accidentally, said Lt. Tom Grau of the Reading Fire Department.

4/25/15 King Tower Fire leaves needs, questions
HUD can use emergency guidance to extend subsidies for temporary relocation.
Two weeks ago, rhino!UP featured a story on disaster assistance from HUD after a fire in a HUD assisted property. A big barrier in getting landlords to use this tool is IGNORANCE. Owners don't know to ask HUD for help and don't know how to find replacement housing in the local market. Some don't even report to HUD that there was a fire! In the wake of the King Tower fire, HUD staff admit privately that they need to be more proactive when they learn of a fire that displaces tenants from their homes.
Step one seems to be for tenants and advocates to report local stories to HUD in Detroit. In the wake of Multifamily Transformation, HUD often doesn't know when there's a local problem unless advocates report it. For years Michael Kane of National Alliance of HUD tenants has called advocates the "eyes and ears" of HUD. Never more true than now since multifamily staff has largely moved to Detroit.
Advocates in Cincinnati may not be waiting for HUD to be more proactive. There's discussion about making relocation rights a part of the city's housing code. Turns out that Cincinnati has had a rash of displacement fires and is looking for ways to strengthen local requirements that landlords assist tenants who were displaced by fire. RHINO will be watching with interest!

Fire in Mansfield apartment complex

Close to 70 residents were displaced after a fire gutted an apartment building on Maple Street. Building B in the three-building Stimens Apartment complex, 750 Maple Street, is considered a total loss, Mansfield Fire Chief Steve Strickling said. The top two floors were completely ravaged by the flames and the roof caved in. Residents were shuttled from the building to the American Red Cross Center in Mansfield with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing when they frantically fled their homes around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
RHINO thinks this story is a "must read" for tenant leaders, activists and organizers. Knowing how fire can devastate a multifamily dwelling should challenge you to take steps to prevent fires and to be ready to respond when a fire occurs. Read the story here

Apartment fire sends 9 to hospital

Man dies after jumping from burning Northside building