31 October 2007
The result? More than 150 apartments had to be evacuated. Although the fire destroyed six units, there was smoke and damage in the other 144 units.
Why did this conflagration occur? Smoke detectors absent? No. Fire extinguishers unavailable? No. Unmarked exits? No.
A resident cooking dinner had a grease fire and threw water (not baking soda or flour) on the fire, making the fire worse. The tenant then fled the apartment, leaving the door to the unit open to the enclosed hallway, only allowing the flames to be fanned further.
One of AACSC’s past presidents had a fire earlier in the year at a building. The fire alarm sounded, but the sprinkler system three feet away did not go on. Cause of the fire was a tenant smoking who fell asleep.
Fires are tragic for everyone concerned – owners and residents. But in trying to prevent future fires, it is important that elected officials keep solutions in perspective.
Perhaps we (AACSC) need to develop fire safety prevention materials for our members to distribute to residents. Maybe we should offer classes to help owners deal with fire losses (in 2005 a free membership meeting was devoted to this topic). In addition, possibly we should meet with fire officials to review codes and procedures.
But we need your help and input to accomplish these goals. You, as a member, know that legislative advocacy on issues like this is one of the most important benefits you receive from the Association. We cannot handle this alone – we need your help.
We will be working with the City of Long Beach on this issue. If you have a fire career background or if you have a personal friendship with any of our local elected officials or city building staff, please call me (562) 426-8341 or any of the members of the Board of Directors.
We will assemble an advocacy team to attend the Public Safety Committee meeting on January 30th and to provide testimony. We will then meet with council members, individually. We will monitor the City’s report on this fire and attend the council meeting when the report is issued in February.
This same procedure is followed for all local advocacy in each of our 54 cities. Please complete the attached form if you have personal contact or special knowledge that would qualify you as a key legislative contact for the Apartment Association.
We need you to be our communication link – let us know what is going on in your community. Read the paper, talk to your elected officials or their staff members. Keep us in your loop and we’ll help protect your property rights.
It will not take much time but the rewards will be HUGE, for you and for other rental property owners.
I want to share several important notes with you that happened after this fire in North Long Beach.
First, the tenants needed to be relocated as quickly as possible. We sent out a call to you, our members, for help in making units available and I am proud to say that nearly 327 units in Long Beach were made available to the Red Cross and the owners’ list for the tenants.
Thanks and appreciation to those who responded, including Belmont Brokerage & Investment, Brockman Properties, Healstone Property Management, Western Property Management, South Bay Management Services, International Realty & Investment, A Better Property Management, HPK Property Management, Safeguard Equities, Inc., Wesco Property, Land Development & Management, Century 21 Coastline, EGL Properties.
Also, Ramer Spurr, Parkside Management, Hathaway Apartments, Penmar Management & Finance, Inc., Wyvernwood Garden, Farmers and Merchants Trust Co., Allen Properties, Santa Fe Management, Gerald Goodman, JW Property Services, RW Selby & Company, Brian Kay, MG Investment Group, Paul Randal, MGB Services, Robert Parker, Lemono Lott, Arnold Associates, Walnut Street Apartments, Paragon Equities, Stefann Duimage, Bob Herman, Ruth Henderson, Merriwood Management Company, National Property Management and Pabst Kinney & Associates.
Second, the owners of Paradise Gardens are to be commended for their quick response to refunding rent checks and security deposits within four days.
Third, the staff at Paradise Gardens has bent over backwards to help the tenants. They have responded to requests for taking pets off the balconies of burned units to pet shops for safekeeping, making calls for residents, and many other human interest examples of excellent customer services occurred at Paradise Gardens.