Everett, WA -- The Bluffs apartments in Washington ignored a city code by never installing fire alarms and paid the price when 130 people were displaced, 12+ people were injured, and 1 man died.
The fire happened on New Year's Eve. The apartments had smoke detectors, but no fire alarms that were connected to the fire department, which was in violation of city code. The fire department believes that at least 26 other Everett apartment complexes are not up to code. The fire marshal's office began making a list of complexes that don't meet code following the fire.
"It's a priority," said Meghan Pembroke, city spokeswoman. "We'll be communicating that code and making sure property owners are aware of it."
The Bluffs was built in 1969, before fire sprinklers were required. However, unlike the fire sprinkler code, the fire alarm code is retroactive. The city of Everett required that buildings with at least three stories or more than 16 units must have a wired fire alarm system.
What makes matters worse is the Bluff is a low-income, primarily Spanish speaking community who were manipulated. The local management of the Bluff apartments required that all residents who were displaced sign a document that would revoke their right to litigate in exchange for their security deposit.
The owner of the building learned of the document that management distributed and canceled it, putting management on administrative leave. The letter was released
without management approval," according to Coast CEO Tom Hoban. ""We regret the confusion it caused."
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