The Baltimore Sun reports that a man who lost his pregnant fiancee, son and fiancee’s niece in an apartment building fire is suing the landlord for failure to install smoke detectors. The lawsuit claims damages totalling 53 million dollars. The lawsuit alleges that only three of the twelve apartments in the building had smoke detectors. The lawyer for the claimant has said that he hoped the lawsuit would prompt other landlords to make sure they have smoke detectors installed in all apartments and “instead of trying to save a few bucks, they might try to save a few lives.”
A few years ago we represented a renter who suffered severe injuries from smoke inhalation that resulted from an apartment fire that could have been put out, but the building did not have working fire extinguishers. The absence of working fire prevention equipment is more prevelant than one would think. Unfortunately, fire prevention issues are often an afterthought for most landlords and It takes a tragedy such as this to serve as a wakeup call. To check whether your building is taking adequate fire prevention steps, look at the website maintained by the National Fire Protection Association which contains fire safety codes and standards in a database that can be accessed online.