Fire codes are meant to protect buildings and the people who live and work in them, but unfortunately they are not always enough to prevent fires from happening. Of course, a code itself can’t prevent a fire unless people follow it, but sometimes even that isn’t enough. Some areas have outdated fire safety codes that simply don’t keep up with the latest information and knowledge we have about how to prevent accidents. Jim Mitchell, the fire chief in Knoxville, Tennessee believes that his city is one such area where the fire code could use a few updates.
Mitchell commented on the city’s fire codes after a fire almost started at Red Ribbon Bakery, a small store in the downtown area. Although there was no fire, an electrical outlet in the store began to spark earlier this month, which could have caused one. An air conditioning unit was plugged into the outlet, and the owner of the bakery unplugged it before the sparks started a fire. Firefighters were called to the scene, and they decided to shut off the building’s breaker until they could assess the cause.
Unless the store owner and firefighters acted quickly, this situation could have turned out much worse. Mitchell expressed his concern that incidents like this could happen to anyone, and not everyone may be as lucky as the owners of Red Ribbon Bakery. He believes that the city’s fire codes should be updated to require downtown buildings to have fire suppression systems installed. Even if firefighters could not arrive at the scene immediately, a fire sprinkler system would be able to put out most fires and prevent any property damage or injuries.
At Agosti & Associates we provide consulting and expert witness services in the areas of Fire/Explosion Investigations; Fire and Building Codes; and Fire Department Operations and Procedures.