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Ash Street Apartments lacked manual fire alarms

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 | 9:43 p.m. CDT; updated 11:05 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 10, 2013

COLUMBIA — The Ash Street Place Apartments on North Stadium Boulevard, where a fire Tuesday caused an estimated $450,000 in damage, is one of 55 apartment buildings in Columbia lacking manual alarms, Battalion Chief Brad Fraizer said Wednesday.

According to the 2009 International Fire Code, which the Columbia Fire Department adopted in May 2011, all buildings with 16 or more dwelling or sleeping units, or with three or more stories above the ground floor, must have a manual “pull-down” fire alarm.

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After adopting the code, the Fire Department first worked with hotels to ensure they installed manual alarms. In November, the department shifted its focus to apartments and is giving owners one year to install alarms.

The Fire Department will not change its timeline for enforcement following the Ash Street Place fire, Fraizer said. He said installing the alarms are expensive, so landlords need time.

No one was injured in Tuesday's fire, which was sparked by a faulty bathroom light fixture in an apartment on the third floor of building 103, Assistant Fire Marshal Lt. Brent Davison said. Six apartments and the building's roof were significantly damaged by the fire, others by smoke and water.

The 55 apartment buildings in 26 complexes have yet to install manual alarms after being notified in November or December, according to data provided by the Fire Department. Four of these buildings are at Ash Street Place Apartments.

Patrick Longow of Mills Properties, the owner of Ash Place Apartments, was first notified of the change in fire code on Nov. 21, according to the data. Longow is also listed as the owner of 13 other buildings in four more complexes that have not installed alarms.

Fraizer said neither the department nor the landlord is required to inform tenants if a building is not up to code.

Following the fire, residents couldn't stay in the 66-unit building Tuesday night. The Red Cross provided temporary shelter at the Broadway Christian Church, 2601 W. Broadway, but it was closed Wednesday morning.

Neither Fraizer nor an employee at the apartments was able to say when residents would be allowed to move back.

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.


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