‘We want people to have a plan’: Fire officials offer advice after Morrisville apartment fire

Wake County News

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – The State Fire Marshal’s Office and North Carolina Apartment Association urge fire safety after a pair of two-alarm apartment complex fires in less than 24 hours.

The first fire happened Wednesday at Camden Westwood in Morrisville. Flames quickly spread to 17 units and displaced nearly three dozen people. The fire marshal’s office said the cause of the fire undetermined.

Investigators said arson is to blame for a two-alarm fire Thursday morning in Charlotte. No one died in either incident, but Chief State Fire Marshal Brian Taylor said fire danger is on the rise.

“Our fire death rates were the most ever in 2018. We want people to have a plan, and we want them to have smoke alarms on each floor and outside their bedroom,” Taylor said.

A third apartment fire was reported Thursday evening at a complex in Raleigh.

All homeowners need to take precautions to prevent fires, but Taylor said apartment tenants need to be worried about neighbors because of the shared walls between multiple dwellings.

Apartments built after 2002 are required to have sprinklers. Fire marshals encourage home hunters to look for sprinklers, smoke detectors, and fire suppression canisters over stoves.

“Over time, you’ve seen how much they’ve saved on the dollar value, dollar loss on kitchen fires. Nationally, that’s the number one cause of fires,” Taylor said. “They have protected millions of dollars with those canisters.”

The Triangle Apartment Association (TAA) will meet with the Raleigh Fire Department in April to educate property managers about the best practices to keep apartment communities safe.

Dustin Engelkin from the TAA provided this list of steps for residents to take in order to have an active role in fire safety and preparation:

  • Create and practice fire escape plans with your family so that everyone knows where they can evacuate safely to in the event of a fire.
  • Check your smoke alarms monthly to ensure they are in good working condition and report any issues to your property management team.
  • Be aware of fire alarm systems in the community and know where the manual fire alarm boxes are in your building so that you can find them quickly in the event of a fire.
  • Be aware of where to find fire extinguishers in your community and consider purchasing one yourself for inside your own apartment. Some apartment homes have fire extinguishers in the unit but all will have them available in hallways and other common spaces.
  • Place a window cling on all entry doors or windows notifying firefighters that there are pets inside.  Detail how many pets you have and what kind of animals they are.  This will inform the firefighters of their presence even if you are not home.
  • Don’t delay in reporting any issues in your apartment to your management team.  Proper maintenance can be an invaluable tool for helping to prevent fires from occurring in the first place and your property management team is there to help!

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