When we woke up this morning we were greeted with the news of the devastating fire in London and my first thought was how could that happen and could that happen here in our side of the world. I find this fire very interesting and incredibly unfortunate for all of the lives lost but I believe there is alot to be learned from this and I will be following the investigation. I have reached out to some industry professionals including my brother Nick who is the Chief Fire inspector for Whitby Fire.
In my experience there are 3 main areas of fire that happen in our world..... kitchen/grease fires,
balcony fires and careless smoking. I know that other types of fires do occur but these are the most common. Through the years I have been through several kitchen fires and have actually stopped a few....we would receive a report from a resident that someone's smoke detector was beeping and when checking the unit it was full of smoke and minutes(seconds) from flaming over....scarry when it happens. Thankfully in most newer buildings they are fully sprinkled which should be a good thing but we recently had a kitchen fire in a unit and 2 sprinklers blew and put out the fire. The problem was that the water ran for about 40 to 45 minutes and we now have 25 units with water damage. Not sure which is better (or worse) as this will probably end up a $200K insurance claim.
It seems like every day there is a news report about another balcony fire caused by lit cigarette butts. I have been a nonsmoker for about 17 years now but I do know the addiction with smoking and I am sure that I probably threw more than a few butts which could have caused a fire but now I see how dangerous that is. ....we are getting closer to smoke free buildings but we are not quite there yet. I have had a couple of buildings that have made rules banning smoking in balconies and terraces but it can be very difficult to actually catch the person who is smoking. I think the only thing we can do is continue to send reminders to the owners and residents to try to stop this. Anyone who has an idea or solution please share it with me.
In the same vein careless smoking used to be a more serious problem but in our new world more people are choosing not to smoke and hopefully that trend will continue. I have experienced several careless smoking fires in Buildings but the worst one was in an older unsprinklered 3 story wooden structure in BC. There was a woman on the first floor who was on oxygen and a smoker....they figure that she fallen asleep with a cigarette and the fire took her unit, blew the oxygen tank and went out to her balcony...the flame caught to the upper balcony on the second floor which had a propane BBQ......when that blew it took out the entire corner of the building...unfortunately I believe 2 or 3 people died in that one.
Bottom line is as property managers we need to always be aware of the dangers and ensure that our systems and records are completely up to date and we work hard to improve community Fire awareness.. I will post more on this topic later after I learn more about the London Fire.