Just after midnight on January 12th, three young people attending a birthday party in a historic apartment building stepped outside to smoke on the fire escape. Moments later, they had fallen 35 feet after the grating collapsed underneath them. Albert Suh, a 22 year old financial analyst was taken to the hospital with severe head trauma where he later died of his injuries. His 2 companions, 22 year old Nancy Chen and 24 year old Laura O’Brien also sustained injuries in the fall.
Tragedies like these underscore just how important fire escapes and proper fire escape maintenance can be. The building owner is now facing 2 separate civil suits that are seeking damages for wrongful death and negligence. One of the attorneys involved in the case, Robert Mongeluzzi, is quoted as saying “Properly maintained and adequately inspected fire escapes simply do not collapse and kill people. A fire escape, a critical life safety building feature, must be able to safely hold the weight of all foreseeable occupants. This fire escape failed miserably.”
Philadelphia city officials have stated that the building’s fire escape had not been inspected in over 50 years. Unfortunately, these city officials are understaffed and are often unable to inspect all of the buildings and fire escapes under their jurisdiction. As a home or building owner, it is up to you to ensure your fire escape and all its components, such as ladders, stairs, and cantilevers, are in safe and working order.
To make sure your fire escape is safe for your tenants and your family call West Coast Fire Escapes today.