Tragic hotel fire leads to four student deaths; nearby extinguisher was inoperable
This is hard to write because it is so awful and tragic. Four young women died in a hotel fire. The alleged person responsible tried to use a fire extinguisher on it but said, "it malfunctioned" and "didn't work."
Extinguishers, by code are supposed to be inspected every 30 days. But this story raises many questions. Were regular inspections done? What was the nature of the malfunction? We do know that with electronic monitoring you get 24/7 coverage and will be alerted immediately if an extinguisher is removed, depressurized or blocked from access. This gives peace of mind that extinguishers are where they should be and pressurized.
We're sure much more will be written about this horrible tragedy. In the short term every commercial and public building should be reviewing their fire safety policies and their extinguisher inspections. Perhaps by doing so, future loss of life can be prevented and these girls' tragic deaths will not have been totally in vain.
This past week I stayed in Miami in a boutique size, big chain hotel. My stay at the hotel was terrific. Helpful and friendly staff, clean rooms and well kept facilities made my stay very pleasant, I would gladly stay there again. Even in this well run hotel, however, the fire extinguisher outside my room was empty.
Walking to my room, I noticed the Class ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher on the 9th floor had lost pressure The pressure gauge read empty. There was no visible means to tell when it was last inspected. The fire extinguisher was in a locked cabinet.
I informed the front desk to the problem on both Saturday the 18th and Sunday the 19th, and yet the inoperable fire extinguisher remained in service through my return to the hotel on the Wednesday the 22nd.
On Wednesday the 22nd, I again informed the front desk and stressed why having no usable fire extinguishers on the 9th floor was such a bad idea. When I checked on the 23rd, nothing had been done although it was assured it would get fixed.
During both my visits to the hotel there was construction being done on the 9th floor, and the only visible fire extinguisher was the empty, inoperative fire extinguisher close by in the hall. This creates a dangerous workplace situation, as well as a situation where hotel guests are at increased, unnecessary risk.
During my second visit I mentioned this issue to a member of the wait staff while asking who to talk to about this. He said that he was not surprised as there has been “an empty one in the kitchen for months”.
I can’t say how long the fire extinguisher was empty. I can say it showed no signs of vandalism and it may have been inspected to code. It likely just leaked.
I do not know if has been fixed.
Yet again, proof that 30 day fire extinguisher inspections are insufficient.
Fire extinguisher inspection
There are building owners and managers in all sectors who neglect 30 day fire extinguisher inspections, To those that do, I say, you’re making a mistake. You need to respect the fire codes and get the inspection job done or start monitoring your fire extinguishers.
Fire extinguishers and fire systems as a whole are not infallible, buildings need layers of fire protection, fire extinguishers are layer #1 in stopping a small fire from becoming a blaze. Fire extinguishers in commercial structures in the United States stop more than 500 fires everyday* That includes an estimated 20 times everyday in hotels.
Fire Extinguishers are the first line of defense when a fire incident occurs. For the extinuisher to do its job, it must be available, accessible and function properly - all things the en-Gauge electronic fire extinuisher monitoring solution insures.
With that said, we love to read stories about Fire Exinguishers doing their job and putting out fires or helping people control fires until help arrives or they can evacuate.
Here is a list of Fire Extinguisher Success Stories from the last few days:
On Veteran's Day, an assistant High School Principal - a veteran himself - extinguished a fire with a fire extinguisher at Whitemarsh High School in Pennsylvania. According to The Times Herald:
Assistant Principal Dan Balek, a veteran, was on hand to save the day at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS) after part of the east wing faculty kitchen area caught fire Thursday afternoon.
While the cause of the fire remains unclear, school spokesman Dave Sherman said Balek happened to be in the area at the time.
"The school was evacuated briefly and (Balek) used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire before the fire department arrived," said Sherman.
It is common to hear about fires put out prior to the fire department arriving. This emphasizes the importance of consistent monitoring of the fire extinguishers to be confident that they are available and ready to work.
A small fire on the Orange Line in the Downtown Crossing MBTA Station in Boston caused disruption of service and the evacuation of the station, but no injuries were reported. According to Boston.com:
A small fire in the Downtown Crossing MBTA station Saturday night disrupted subway service, but caused no reported injuries, Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said.
Officials evacuated the station as a precaution after the fire, which occurred about 10 p.m., MacDonald said. The flame started around the wheel of a Orange Line train, and firefighters quickly put it out with a fire extinguisher before it could make a lot of smoke, MacDonald said.
Intentionally Set School Fire in Washington State Supressed with Fire Extinguisher
A fire intentionally set in the 3rd floor girls bathroom at Kitsap High School in Kitsap, Washington was identified and extinguished by school officials after smoke was reported. According to the Central Kipsap Reporter:
School officials were alerted to the fire and used a fire extinguisher to snuff out the small blaze, according to a statement from the fire department. No one was injured.
Estimates put the damage at about $2,000.
District spokesman David Beil said about 1,200 students were temporarily evacuated.
According to a student at the school who commented on the article:
omg me and my bros and my friendsgo to this schoolitwas so creepy!! there was smoke everywhere!!
We love this comment and think that the english teachers at the school probably will too.
According to the Kitsap Sun - yup, the same Kitsap - a fire at a manufacturing plant on Bainbridge Island experienced an electric fire:
Employees at the rod-and-reel plant noticed sparks and a flame coming from the wall socket about 8:30 p.m., according to a report from Bainbridge Island Fire Department. An alert employee grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the blaze.
As a precaution, the building was evacuated.
When firefighters arrived, they checked the outlet and surrounding wall with a thermal imaging camera and found no lingering heat. Employees were allowed to go home, and maintenance staffers took over repairs.
This is a perfect example of why you call the Fire Department, even if you think you have fought the blaze successfully. Fires that may look like they have been extinguished can smolder for hours and come back to life later. The Fire Department knows what to look for and should always be contacted in any fire emergency.
Remember, make sure you perform your yearly fire extinguisher inspections and to ensure that your extinguishers are available, accessable and ready to use 24 X 7, 365, rely upon en-Gauge. The only electronically monitored fire extinguisher solution. Contact Us today to Learn More
We run across these stories ALL the time. Fire extinguishers are the first response against indoor fires. Properly functioning fire extinguishers can put out the majority of early stage fires. In order to protect the lives of those who you are responsible for it is important to ensure that your fire extinguishers are working properly. Here are 10 recent incidents in which fire extinguishers were stolen or vandalized leaving a building at risk in the case of Dickenson High or and in extreme cases like the motel fire in Hoover Alabama, resulted in loss of life.
Stories like these are testament to the fact that in this day and age, there is no excuse for not monitoring fire extinguishers. A thirty-day checkup is simply not good enough, especially when we have the option to monitor extinguisher’s 24 hours a day.
Where there's smoke, there's fire. And that was the case at a Houston Hospital. Fortunately the fire was put out with an extinguisher before anyone was hurt. It's a good thing the extinguisher was acccessible and ready to use so that there was no significant damage or worse, loss of life.
It seems to us that it has been too long since we wrote a fire extinguisher success story wrap-up. As usual, the stories aren’t hard to find. Small fires kept from turning into large, devastating fires by quick thinking individuals using these critical life safety devices. Here is a wrap up:
Nursing Home Employees Keep Fire From Spreading
Nursing home employees in Missouri used a fire extinguisher to save the Bluffs Nursing home from burning down after a food warmer caught fire. According to an article from Connect Mid-Missouri:
The Columbia fire department says employees at a nursing home saved the building during an early evening fire.It happened at about 5:00pm last night at the Bluffs nursing home on Bluff Creek drive.
Firefighters found a small fire involving the plug from a food warmer and an electrical outlet that had been extinguished by employees using a fire extinguisher. The fire caused about $4,000 worth of damage.
Without the use of proper fire extinguishers by the employees this accident could have been much worse. Evacuating elderly people can be a very dangerous activity for both the firefighters and the people being evacuated.
Fire Extinguishers (and Good Fences) Make Good Neighbors
A neighbor with a keen eye saved a house in New London Connecticut using a fire extinguisher to put out a blaze before fire officials would even arrive. These actions prevented injuries and minimized the damages to the house. According to Connecticut’s TheDay.com:
An alert neighbor grabbed a fire extinguisher and quickly knocked down an outside fire at 12 Home St. on Monday afternoon. Battalion Chief Keith Nichols said fire personnel arrived around 2 p.m. to find lots of smoke with the blaze knocked down but still smoldering. No one was injured, Nichols said, and the damage was contained to the outside, porch and siding area of the multi-family home. Firefighters pulled siding from the home and sprayed it down. One firefighter used a chainsaw to cut away burnt siding and another peeled up porch slats to make sure the fire had not spread. Nichols did not know the cause of the fire, which remains under investigation by the fire marshal’s office.
This good neighbor was prepared and ready for an accident, when it happened he reacted and saved the house. Without the necessary equipment this small fire could’ve easily engulfed the entire house
Tenant Fights Kitchen Fire: Protects Fellow Residents, Building
The occupant of an apartment in Ohio saved his unit as well as others’ in the apartment building when he quelled a kitchen fire using a fire extinguisher. The article in IndieOnline.com reports:
According to reports, fire crews responded to 1819 Miles Ave. NW around 9:45 p.m. Fire Chief Tracy Hogue said that the occupant of the apartment where the fire started used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames and that the department needed minimal amounts of water to extinguish the fire. Smoke from the fire filled the entire apartment and forced the residents of the adjoining apartments to evacuate. The only damage reported was to the apartment where the fire originated. The smoke and heat damage, which was contained to the kitchen, was estimated at $5,000.
This quick thinking tenant was well prepared and potentially saved not only his unit, but also the entire building.
Couple Uses Fire Extinguishers To Escape Aggressive Blaze
A well prepared Oregon couple narrowly escape their home unharmed by using fire extinguishers to fend off flames that filled their home. An article by The Oregonian reports:
Regina and Dwayne Dennis discovered a blaze in their home in the 3700 block of North Vancouver Avenue and called 9-1-1 at 4:45 a.m. They then fought the blaze with fire extinguishers they kept in the house as they backed away from the flames and toward safety. "This is a case where the homeowners did everything right and got out of the house quickly and safely," said Paul Corah, spokesman for the Portland Fire Bureau. "They had working smoke alarms, portable fire extinguishers, called 911, and met firefighters out front just as they should have."