Saturday, April 6, 2013

Geneva Rental Home Fire

Although this rental is not in Bellingham, it is within the Urban Growth Area which will eventually become part of Bellingham.  At that time, rentals in Geneva will become Bellingham's problem.  There is a lesson to be learned from this rental fire. (You can read the Bellingham Herald article here.)  Chimneys are a source of danger for rentals not only from the possibility of a fire from creosote buildup but also from poor drawing that can spread carbon monoxide throughout the dwelling unit.   Leaky chimney linings can also allow material (such as wood and insulation) abutting the chimney to catch fire.  With over 25,000 such fires each year, the danger presented by chimney blazes cannot be ignored.

Carbon monoxide detectors are now required in rental homes in the state of Washington.  It appears that this particular fire was discovered when one of the renters was awakened by a smoke alarm.   Mere smoke alarms will not detect carbon monoxide which kills silently while a renter sleeps.  Carbon monoxide detectors must also be located low enough to perform correctly as the gas tends to sink towards the floor.  Ceiling mounted detectors are not very useful. You can read more about the requirement for carbon monoxide detectors in my 30 Jan 2013 blog entry entitled Carbon Monoxide Alarms Now Required in Rentals.  Click here to read that entry.

So as the discussion continues on rental health and safety, the City Council should add chimneys to the list of items for the eventual ordinance on rental inspections.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It requires a Harry Potter to explain the "magic" of the influence wielded by special interests in the Bellingham City council's unwillingness to legislate commonsense in the matter of rental ordinances in this city. Matters of public concern are regularly flaunted by Real Estate interests and council after council has refused to legislate on behalf of the citizen victims of lax enforcement of zoning and licencing regulation.
Sleep on dear council while city blight spreads without action.
WHY can council not address this malady before the rental rot sdpreads beyond control