Apartment Fire Safety a Concern after Ashton Apartments Fire


By Ashley Thompson

A fire overnight at a Montgomery Apartment Complex destroyed two units and left two families homeless. Now some residents who live there say they want more fire safety devices in their homes.

The Montgomery Fire Department says the fire was intentionally set and investigators are still working to find who did it. Though that isn't making residents feel any better about the fire that happened just around the corner from where they live.

Two units of the Ashton Apartments off Carmichael Road went up in flames, leaving families without homes and many others worried. Deaunta Rajavas lives in the apartments and says this is the second fire to break out since he's been there.

"They put them out but they don't do a good job preventing them," he says.

Rajavas says he'd like more fire safety equipment in his apartment. Somethign other residents say they agree with. Ashley Adams tells us the units don't have sprinkler systems.

"You have a smoke alarm and a fire extinguisher."

But the Park Apartments in Prattville do. As leasing agent Amber Gillespie tells us.

"Each sprinkler system is monitored throughout the apartment and goes off and is regulated by how hot it is," she says.

And the complex has fire alarms, which are checked every three months, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and strobe lights.

"That is very beneficial to people who have hearing impairments," Gillespie explains.

So why does one apartment come equipped with all of these devices, while the other doesn't? We asked state fire marshall Edward Paulk, who tells us it depends on when an apartment was built. The state adopted the 2009 International Building and Fire Code, meaning new construction of apartments must meet certain code.

"The code requires that, number one, an apartment building, an R2 occupancy, has to be protected by a fire sprinkler system," Paulk says.

Each unit must also have a smoke detector inside but old apartments don't have to meet the new code. So, should it be state law for every apartment to have the most up-to-date fire safety equipment? Paulk says not necessarily.

"In an ideal world, we would go back and put the latest technology in buildings but we live in the real world. The real world is, the fact that a building was built and it was code compliant at the time it was built. It has a life expectancy and if it was properly maintained during that life expectancy, then it should be able to be maintained."


Paulk says there are exceptions to which apartments have to meet which codes based on size, the number of units, and the height.

The Red Cross is providing temporary housing for the families that have been displaced by the fire at the Ashton Apartments.



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