Life in San Antonio often means living in an apartment or condominium building. Perhaps you have a prime location in or near the downtown area shops, restaurants and entertainment. Maybe one of the area’s newer high-rise buildings better suits your needs. Or you may live in a more modest accommodations in an outlying neighborhood.
In any case, during your apartment or condominium search, you probably had specific things on your wish list. You may have considered safety issues like fire prevention, but many people do not. Wherever you live, the law requires rental property owners and condominium associations to maintain safe conditions in their buildings, including measures to reduce the possibility of fires.
Putting fire safety first
At a minimum, your building should have a fire monitoring system. The property owner should place smoke alarms in key locations throughout the common areas, such as laundry rooms, fitness centers and clubhouses, along with other places, and in every unit. They require periodic testing and maintenance to remain in good working order. If the building has a sprinkler system, it should be working at all times. Fire safety checklists should be up-to-date and reviewed periodically.
The building should be free of electrical hazards such as frayed cords, overloaded outlets and exposed wires. The property owner should devise a fire plan for residents and employees. Everyone should be aware of the plan. Everyone should understand what his or her part and responsibilities are in the event of a fire. It may even be a good idea to have a Plan B in case Plan A doesn’t work due to the unpredictable nature of fire.
Storage areas should remain organized, free of clutter and clean. Any flammable liquids that the building staff may use require proper use and storage. The property owner should ensure that electrical panels, space heaters and sprinkler system controls remain free from obstructions. Each floor should have at least one fire extinguisher. Stairwells and exit doors require clear markings.
If there is a fire
The property owner can take steps to help ensure that the building is safe, but he or she cannot necessarily control the residents. If the property owner fails to take fire safety seriously, and a fire breaks out, it could jeopardize lives. Statistics show that around half of all apartment or condominium building fires result from cooking mishaps. You never know whether the person living next to you may have a problem in the kitchen.
You count on the property owner’s fire safety measures to help contain the fire, warn you of a fire and get you out of the building safely. If the property owner or condominium association fails to do so and you are injured in a fire, you may be able to pursue compensation for your financial losses, pain and suffering, and other economic and noneconomic losses. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about your legal options.