Reality Check: Residents alarmed over smoke detector situation
Mobile, Ala. (WPMI) —
Residents reached out to Local 15 for help after they say their smoke detectors didn’t even alert them about a blaze at the Crossings at Pinebrook Apartments.
Mattie Guidroz woke up to a man banging on her door early Saturday morning.
“Had it not been for him we would be dead, toast,” Guidroz said.
Guidroz said she lived two doors down from where officials say the fire started, yet her smoke alarm didn't even go off until she was half way out the door.
“That that concerns me,” Guidroz said, adding “I could understand if I was six doors down, but there's one person in the middle of us.”
Other people down the hall said their alarms didn't go off at all and there were no sprinklers or alarms coming from the hallway to alert them either.
Frightened by the lack of warning, Mattie and others say they went to the front office for answers.
“When we asked them about why the fire alarms didn’t go off it was complete silence, they changed the topic,” Guidroz said.
Local 15 called the front office at the Crossings at Pine Brook apartments. We were instructed to contact the regional manager, but she has not returned our calls at this time. We then took resident’s concerns to Mobile Fire-Rescue.
“When the complex was built sometime in the 70s, the code requirement at that time was that every apartment would have a smoke alarm,” Mobile Fire-Rescue’s Steve Huffman said, adding “To our knowledge they do have smoke alarms, but obviously with the damage there we could check every apartment.”
Huffman explained in the 70s, fire codes did not require buildings to have sprinklers or smoke detectors in the hallways. Today, that is no longer the case.
“Fire codes are updated every so many years and the whole idea behind the fire codes is they discovered something needs to be changed to make things safe. That's why today's code they have sprinklers,” Huffman said.
However, since this building was built in the 70s, Huffman explains it's not required to meet today's standards.
“They operate under the old code. We don't go in and make them operate under the current code, it's just not done that way,” Huffman said.
“We are not in 1970 this is 2017. Oh my god my mind is blown right now,” Guidroz said.
In order to require an older building to be brought under current code, Huffman said there has to be a major renovation, rebuild or a change in occupancy.
“Well, hopefully this is a good reason to rebuild,” Guidroz said, adding “I hate that it took for a tragedy like this in order for someone to realize that an apartment complex needs to be up to code.”