We’ve all seen it in the movies – the romantic scene on the fire escape, looking out over the city scape. Such was not the case for a Colorado man recently when he was instructed to use the fire escape to access a building’s roof for a routine inspection. When he was partway up the fire escape, a cable snapped, causing him to plunge 20 feet down to the alley below. This horrific construction accident claimed the life of the well-liked father of five.
When we think of fire escapes, what automatically comes to mind is that they are a good, safe means of exit from a building in case of emergency. But this is not necessarily the case. Fire escapes are no longer included in new construction. Instead, building codes now call for indoor stairwells that will provide egress from the building in an emergency for more people in a faster and safer manner.
The fire escapes that are currently in place can date back as far as the late 1800s, and there are no laws in Colorado Springs requiring that they be inspected. The fire department will occasionally check them for safety issues, but there is no set schedule. It is up to the building owner to ensure that they are in good working order and safe for use.
A good course of action would be for the building tenants in Colorado to check with management to find out when the last fire escape inspection occurred and to request one if it has not been done recently. If this had been done, perhaps the man would still be here with his friends and family. An OSHA investigation of the horrible construction accident is pending. The family of the deceased may want to determine the procedure for filing for their loved one’s workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits could help cover the man’s unexpected end-of-life expenses and more.
Source: The Gazzette, Worker killed in fall from Colorado Springs fire escape was father of five; funeral Tuesday, Lisa Walton, Jan 27, 2014