Over the last few weeks, the city of Novi has experienced two serious house fires, and one of the fires involved fatalities. The fatalities were in the basement of the home. The basement was being used as bedroom, which many people do, but there was no emergency exit in the basement. Many people do not realize what a safety hazard a basement without an emergency exit is. In fact, the State of Michigan’s building codes include the following requirement regarding the basement:
“Basements that contain 1 or more sleeping rooms, emergency egress and rescue openings shall be required in each sleeping room. The opening shall open directly into a public street, alley, yard or court.”
This requirement means that there has to be a window that can be opened and is large enough for a fireman in full gear to enter through. This opening can also be used for people to escape through in the event of a fire or some other emergency. Many times a fire spreads through the stairways making them unusable for escape, which is exactly what happened in the Novi fire.
The most important fire safety tips families can incorporate to keep them safe are 1) have working smoke detectors, 2) have a usable fire extinguisher in the home, 3) have and know what your emergency evacuation route is and 4) ensure that there is an emergency evacuation route available in all areas of the home, including the basement.
Wendy Beever, CIC, ARM