In many cases fires are isolated incidents that involve either fool play or a tragic accident. However, when multiple fires break out in the same city over a short period of time, it may be worth it to take a closer look. That’s what some people are doing after a massive fire destroyed most of the Younker’s building in Des Moines, the third major fire in the downtown area in a little more than a decade. While city officials have said that the Des Moines fire safety code exceeds the minimal standards, others are not so sure.
Many people are concerned that Des Moines is not where several other cities are in terms of its fire safety procedures and code. This is already leading to some changes, with several contractors looking at existing buildings and putting new plans in place for construction projects. In general, people just want to ensure that the buildings in Des Moines are as protected against potential fires as possible.
As it stands right now, inspectors in Des Moines are not required to look at areas where hot work will occur, and contractors don’t have to let the city know when they will be performing said hot work. Many cities require either one or both of these things, which could be a contributing factor to the fire safety issues in Des Moines. According to a new study by the National Fire Protection Association, the majority of construction site fires were related to hot-work.
Whether or not Des Moines officials implement new fire safety protocols remains to be seen, but it is always a good idea for cities to routinely look at their standards and determine what, if anything, needs to be changed or updated.
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.