Monday, July 29, 2013

San Bernardino house fire: Elderly man dead

from abc7

An investigation is underway after an elderly man died following an early morning fire in San Bernardino on Monday.
Officials say the two-alarm fire broke out at a home near 15th street and Massachusetts Avenue. Arson investigators with the San Bernardino Fire Department sifted through burned rubble searching for clues.
Neighbors usually help take care of the man. They put him to bed Sunday night, then they woke up to the house next door fully engulfed in flames.
"There was a loud pop, and that woke me up, and I seen all the smoke, then we ran out the house," said Alex Burk, a San Bernardino resident.
Area residents say they tried to save the man, but the heavy smoke and flames kept them from reaching him.
"When units arrived on scene, they found a well-involved structure. They initiated an aggressive fire attack as well as a search at the same time, because we did have confirmation that there was a victim inside the structure," said Mike Arvizo with the San Bernardino Fire Department.
Neighbors say the elderly man, who went by the nickname "Cowboy," lived alone and was disabled. Firefighters found the man's body in a back bedroom.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
(Copyright ©2013 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Demonstration shows value of fire sprinklers

from foxnews

Updated: Friday, 26 Jul 2013, 5:58 PM CDT
Published : Friday, 26 Jul 2013, 2:13 PM CDT

FOND DU LAC - Fire departments have long said fire sprinklers can save lives.

Friday a demonstration designed to show sprinklers can make a difference.

Fond du Lac firefighters set up a side by side demonstration to show how quickly a small fire can consume a building.

"Both alarms were off at 10 seconds," said Dan Gengler of the National Fire Sprinkler Association as the demonstration got underway.
And the clock was ticking for anyone to escape as smoke and flames begin to fill the mock rooms.

"People just don't understand, we're trying to get the word out," said Gengler.

The fire danger is real. Fire sprinkler supporters say while the devices may not put out a fire, their value can be priceless.

"Fire sprinklers and smoke alarms don't stop the fire from happening, it's the aftermath that does all the damage. They can destroy property, they can injure people and kill people," said Gengler.

Now the difference in the two rooms is becoming clear.

"Fire doubles in size every 19 seconds," said Gengler as flames in the non-sprinkled room began to spread.

And in less than two minutes the temperature in the room with no sprinkler has climbed to roughly 1,200 degrees.

"There you have it, that's what's called flashover, nobody can survive in there," Gengler said.

But in the other room, the sprinkler activated at 170 degrees and kept the fire contained to just a couch until firefighters could arrive to put it out. Doing the job ofsaving lives, the very reason Habitat for Humanity in Fond du Lac is getting on board.

"For our Habitat partner families, safety is always important to us," said Paul Osterholm, executive director.

Osterholm says this is the second Habitat house to be built in Fond du Lac that has fire sprinklers installed. He hopes that will be a trend that will continue in other homes they build in the future.

Installing sprinkler systems in new construction can run about $2,000 for a $200,000 home, or about one percent of the total cost of the home. To add sprinklers to existing buildings can run anywhere from two to three percent higher, but Gengler says sprinklers are worth every penny if it can save a life.

"I was on the wrong end and witnessed what fire can do, taking lives, taking property, creating all kinds of havoc on a family. That shouldn't happen, it can be avoided," said Gengler.

Firefighters also say a working smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector should be on each level of a home or business. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rockford homebuilders, state fire marshal at odds over sprinklers


By Alex Gary and GateHouse Media Illinois
Posted Jul 23, 2013 @ 12:26 PM

Automated sprinklers would become mandatory for new home construction in Illinois if a proposal from the state fire marshal is approved.
Illinois State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis said mandatory sprinklers are a common-sense way to continue the reduction in fire deaths and injuries of recent years. Opponents, including homebuilders, say the proposed rule is an expensive intrusion on consumer and local-government choice.

Dennis Sweeney, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of the Greater Rockford Area, said his association en masse is opposed to the sprinkler mandate.
“It’s a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist,” Sweeney said. “The building codes on new homes already is very strict. You can check anywhere. New homes rarely burn down. It’s the older homes with old wiring and no fire blocking that burn down.”

Matkaitis said it has been more than a decade since the fire code was updated in Illinois.
Fire deaths across the state totaled 120 in 2012, and there were more than 500 injuries, according to the office. More than 61,000 fire calls were made statewide last year, and more than 15,000 had been reported through July 5 this year.

Springfield fire calls totaled more than 16,100 in 2012 and a little more than 7,900 through July 5 this year.

Matkaitis said modern home-building materials are more lightweight and prone to collapse before firefighters arrive. Sprinklers, said Matkaitis, would buy homeowners and firefighters time.

“It will either put the fire out right away, or knock it down to the point when firefighters get there, all they have to do is come out with a hand pump,” Matkaitis said. “It minimizes fire damagesmoke damage and lung damage.”

The National Fire Protection Association also is urging state and local governments to adopt mandatory sprinkler rules.

But Gary Oehlberg, owner of Oehlberg Construction Company of Loves Park and president of the Home Builders Association of the Greater Rockford Area, said the cost of the systems remains too high, and that cost would get passed on to every buyer, hurting an industry that still has not recovered from the Great Recession.

There are significant disagreements on the cost. The fire marshal’s office puts the estimate at $1.69 per square foot. Builders say the figure is closer to $3.50 and could be has high as $8.50 per square foot.

Oehlberg builds custom homes, meaning his customers have the means to add sprinklers if they wanted to. In 38 years, he can’t remember installing any locally.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

100 years since fire in Binghamton factory claimed more than 30 lives


This week marks 100 years since flames engulfed a factory in downtown Binghamton, claiming the lives of more than 30 people. As our Elyse Mickalonis explains, the 1913 fire took less than 20 minutes to destroy the building; but, its impact is still being felt today.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Along the river in Downtown Binghamton is a street with a dark history.
"We’ve certainly had disasters here, the ACA shooting a few years ago, floods,” said Gerald Smith, Broome County Historian. “But in terms of human loss, this is the largest tragedy we’ve ever had."
It’s been 100 years since flames ripped through the four-story Binghamton Clothing Factory building. A newer building has since taken its place; but, the memory of what happened on July 22, 1913 lives on.
"A fire started in the basement of the building. There was only one staircase, from the basement to the top floor, which acted like a vacuum and sucked the fire up through the building,” said Smith.
Lt. Thomas Harding, Binghamton Fire Department, added, "A lot of the windows and stairwells were open and that led to the intensity of the fire. It grew rapidly. Only 60 people out of the 100 were able to escape."
Many of those trapped were women and immigrants. Workers did practice fire drills, but the building wasn't mandated to have a fire escape or sprinkler system.
"The first trucks to arrive had their wooden ladders. They were singed by the fire, just arriving on scene. There was no chance of getting close to the building,” said Harding.
Smith added, "Some leapt to their death, jumped off the roof. Some were trapped by the flames. The building collapsed after 18 minutes."
The fire came one year after another deadly factory fire in New York City, resulting in stricter safety codes.
"This is only a year after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that killed over 100 people. New York State did something good and productive,” said Smith. “They had a factory fire investigation commission come out. They mandated that any building over two stories has to have a fire escape, has to have a sprinkler system and a fire disaster plan."
Although 31 lives were lost that day, many more could have perished, had it not been for a select few who risked their lives by heading back into the building.
"I’m a distant relative of Nellie Connor, who died in the fire and she was credited with saving lives before she died,” said Harding.
Along with Connor, company foreman Sidney Dimmock also lost his life rescuing workers. Some of the victims were so badly burned they were buried in unmarked graves at Spring Forest Cemetery. Their names were etched on a monument there so they are never forgotten.
The cause of the fire was never determined. Historians said it’s thought to be arson by an employee who was arrested for setting a similar fire in another location.
A memorial service will be held Monday at the original location of the factory on Wall Street at 2 p.m. After that, a prayer service will be held at Spring Forest Cemetery.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Kelowna’s fire chief calls for balcony sprinklers


KELOWNA — Kelowna’s fire chief wants sprinklers mandatory on balconies, after a blaze sparked by a balcony barbeque destroyed much of Rutland’s Legacy II condo building Tuesday afternoon.
Fire Chief Jeff Carlisle is disappointed that building codes haven’t changed and that apartment buildings are not required to have sprinklers outside, not even on balconies.
Fire departments across Canada have been advocating for sprinklers for a quarter century.”
This isn’t the first time a barbeque has caused major damage. In both 2001 and 2002 blazes ripped through townhouse complexes in Kelowna, with barbeques to blame.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Residential fire sprinklers main topic of first 'contractor's hour'


Herald-Whig Staff Writer

City officials told a group of local contractors Thursday morning that an updated set of codes may be adopted, which could include requiring fire sprinklers for new single- and two-family homes.
Chuck Bevelheimer, director of planning and development, said the city has adopted the 2006 International Residential Code but it needs to be updated to avoid an increase on the city's Insurance Services Office rating, which affectshomeowner rates.
"We haven't jumped to the new code because of that requirement," he said.
Michael Seaver, director of inspection and enforcement for the city's Department of Planning and Development, said the state fire marshal is considering administrative rule changes that would require the fire sprinklers in single-family homes.
"That would effectively make the requirement a state law," he said. "Although under that law the city is not charged with enforcement of it, but it brings up an interesting dilemma of what do we do with that if we adopt a different standard of what effectively a state law."
Seaver said the city could adopt the code but not include the fire sprinklers requirement.
The meeting was part of Mayor Kyle Moore's goal to meet with contractors to discuss any issues they were having. Moore was joined by about two dozen local contractors and city employees for his first "contractor's hour."
"Nobody knows our processes like you guys," he said.
Steve Kennedy, who lives in the Curtis Creek area, questioned what action the city would take regarding foundationdrains and sump pumps that were connected to the city sewer system. Officials believe that both may have played a role in sewer backups during heavy rain this spring.
A back flow survey is being sent to the 17,000 residential customers to ask them what is being drained into the city sewer system. The survey is being required by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Bevelheimer said the survey though does not ask about sump pumps or foundation drains.
Moore said the city is looking at other communities inspection program.
"We've looked at some type of inspection program when there is a change in occupancy before," he said. "It's nothing that we have taken to the council or been able to flush out, but I know that is something that we are looking at other communities. That way we can catch that early, but still not be intrusive to people's lives."


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Deadly fire prompts lawsuit: Complaint alleges Redwood City building had inadequate sprinklers

from smdailyjournal

July 17, 2013, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal

The company that owns the building in the six-alarm blaze in Redwood City last weekend that killed one and left nearly 100 people homeless is being sued for negligence by a couple displaced by the fire, according to a civil complaint filed in San Mateo County Superior Court yesterday.
The blaze was the fault of Newport Beach-based KDF Hallmark’s “failure to properly inspect, maintain and safeguard the property from a foreseeable unit fire,” according to the complaint filed by plaintiffs Jorge and Juanita Chavez, who lived on the second floor of the 72-unit Hallmark House Apartments on Woodside Road.
The building has since been deemed uninhabitable by fire officials.
Officials with KDF Hallmark did not return a Daily Journal call yesterday.
The Chavez family is being represented by attorneys Ara Jabagchourian and Alexandra Hamilton with Burlingame-based Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy.
Jabagchourian told the Daily Journal yesterday that more plaintiffs could join in the lawsuit.
The landlords need to take responsibility for protecting their tenants’ possessions and lives, Jabagchourian said.
“Given the lack of sprinklers, inadequate smoke detectors and/or other safeguards, a localized fire consumed nearly the entire apartment complex,” according to the complaint.
A fire that started in one unit should not have grown to such enormity, Jabagchourian said.
About half of the tenants in the building also received some type of assistance from the county, including housing vouchers. Many of the victims sought emergency shelter from the Red Cross for at least three days after the fire.
The victim who died was identified as Darin Michael Demello-Pine, 48, according to the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office. Pine lived on the third floor in unit no. 307, where fire officials believe the blaze started as an accident, perhaps from cooking.
Almost 40 hours after the fire was first reported, fire crews were still in the building knocking out windows and attending to hot spots.
Former residents of the complex stood in line two days after the fire started for a chance to recover any belongings remaining from the blaze. They only had 10 minutes, however, to recover their belongings.
Much of the third floor of the complex was completely destroyed by the fire and the rest of the building suffered major water and smoke damage. About 25 residents were briefly hospitalized and another 61 were housed at the evacuation center at the Fair Oaks Community Center the morning of the blaze.
KDF Hallmark did return deposits quickly to residents and also reimbursed them for July rent, a Redwood City police official said.
Yesterday, a fundraiser was held at Red Morton Park for the fire victims from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
KDF has been involved in the construction, acquisition and rehabilitation of more than 5,300 affordable rental units in 44 properties throughout California, according to the company’s website.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106

Monday, July 15, 2013

[OPINION] Elizabeth Fire Highlights Need For Residential Fire Sprinklers


June 29, 2013

One choice can change many lives... Faith or Fate by John Ruggiero

by David Kurasz, executive director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board
A 17-year-old girl tragically lost her life in a quick moving fire that struck a rooming house on Saturday, June 15, in Elizabeth. A man in his 60s was also critically injured in the blaze when he jumped from the third floor of the house in an effort to escape the extreme smoke and fire conditions. Firefighters acted quickly and courageously but were unable to enter the structure due to the intensity of the blaze. The other tenants were able to escape without injury
The New Jersey Assembly passed bill A1570 in January and has recently introduced Senate bill S2273, which would make it mandatory for all newly constructed one- and two-family homes as well as condominiums and townhomes to be equipped with fire sprinklers. Fire sprinklers are the only proactive form of fire protection and can provide residents the time they need to get out and first responders the time they need to safely enter the structure.
I urge you to check your smoke detectors and to educate yourselves on how fire sprinkler systems can provide your family the time needed to escape and protections against the dangers of fire. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Construction Worker Accused Of Setting Home On Fire

from  cbs

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LA PUENTE ( — A 36-year-old construction worker is accused of setting a home on fire.
Jeffrey Condrey, of La Puente, was reportedly detained by deputies as he ran from the home in the 500 block of North Sandspring Drive in La Puente.
Officials said they responded to the fire Thursday, July 11, at about 12:25 p.m.
Authorities took Condrey to a local hospital fortreatment for injuries sustained in the fire. Deputies said that while Condrey was hospitalized he attempted to escape but was again detained.
Detectives from the Arson/Explosives Detail of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. determined the cause of the fire to be arson. There is an estimated $75 -100,000 damage to the home.
Condrey was at the home to construct cabinets. Deputies said for reasons unknown, he allegedly became distraught and set fire to the home.
The suspect was booked and charged with arson to a structure and attempted escape. He is being held on $250,000 bail.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Sergeant Michael Costleigh of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Arson/Explosives Detail at (323) 881-7500.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fire Blazed As Plymouth Apt. Complex Lacked Sprinkler System

from cbs

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77642_Reg Chapman
Reporting Reg Chapman
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PLYMOUTH, Minn. (WCCO) – The State Fire Marshall is trying to determine what caused an early morning apartment complex fire in Plymouth that sent dozens running for safety.
A four-alarm fire engulfed the Vicksburg Village Apartments around 4 a.m. after it appeared that a window AC unit on the third floor started on fire.
Fire crews, after clearing a call nearby, were on the scene within minutes.
“We had a very advance fire upon arrival,” Chief Richard Kline said. “Our initial actions was to make sure we could get all the tenants out, which we did.”
Crews helped more than 60 tenants from their apartment homes — 12 had to be rescued by firefighters.
Others were able to get out on their own.
“I saw the smoke doors shut, and I went through the first smoke door and the entire hallway was just black solid smoke,” resident Susan Johnson said.
Johnson was able to grab her dog and get out.
Plymouth Fire Chief Richard Kline says the building was built in 1990 and sprinklers were not required to be installed back then.
“If there had been asprinkler system, we would not be having this conversation,” Kline said.
Without sprinklers, Kline said the burning apartments did not stand a chance.
“It’s all wood,” Kline said. “It’s a lumber yard and once it reaches that attic space and breaches that attic space — it’s a matchbox.”
No tenants or firefighters were hurt.
Everyone in the complex had renter’s insurance, so companies have been assisting residents find alternative places to call home in the meantime.