Forum: Bronx blaze proves value of safety checks

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If ever there was proof required that strata schemes need regular fire safety checks the recent tragic events in New York are a horrific and stark reminder that safety measures are there for a reason.

According to reports, 17 people died when they were overcome by smoke from a small fire. And it seems that the problem was exacerbated greatly by the fact that the door of the apartment where the fire started was left open when the occupants escaped. 

Had it been closed, the fire would probably have been contained and the people who were trapped and asphyxiated in the stairwell may well still be around to tell the tales of their escape.

This is why we are (or should be) subjected to regular fire safety checks and it’s why the entrance door of your apartment and the door closure mechanism attached to it are the responsibility of the owners corporation.

Basically, we can’t be trusted to take care of the first line of defence that will prevent a fire and smoke from it in our units spreading to others.

Given half a chance, some people will replace their doors with something more attractive but less fire-safe or paint them with non-retardant paints.

Even worse, they will resolve the problem of a slamming door by removing or disconnecting the self-closing mechanism.  Is that what happened in New York?  You’d have to consider the possibility, as fire authorities there clearly are.

The residents of that New York block are far from alone in this, if that indeed is what happened. How many times have you seen a fire door bearing a sign saying “This door must not be propped open” when exactly that has been done?

So fire safety inspections are a good thing but there’s a complaint about them that keeps coming up on the Flat Chat Forum.

Generally it goes like this: for years fire safety inspectors tick all the boxes, say everything is fine and send in a bill. Then the company changes and the new company finds faults all over the block. 

But that’s ok, because having found the faults, they can then fix them … at a cost, of course. Is it a rort?  Maybe not.  Maybe the original fire inspectors were a bit slack and let a lot of issues slide.

But then, there’s a situation where the new company finds the faults, charges the scheme for fixing them … and everything stays the same. 

It’s not just about the money and the shameless exploitation. If we lose faith in the people who are supposed to advise us on how to stay safe, doors start getting propped open and self closing mechanisms get disconnected.

You can read about one suspicious fire safety report HERE.

ELSEWHERE IN THE FORUM

  • Remember the strata manager who refused to refund the call-out cost for a broken common property lock?  We have an update HERE.
  • My Airbnb with an ocean view was the basement of an office block.  That’s HERE.
  • And on the subject of holiday lets, can an owner’s corp put conditions on their permission to allow them in their block?  That’s HERE.
  • Who pays for replacement pavers when the owners corp rips them up to replace waterproofing underneath.  We all know the answer to this, but it’s HERE anyway.

As well as all our new questions, there are quite a few updates to running discussions in the Forum.  Be sure to check them out and subscribe to the topics to be alerted when there are new responses.

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