The Building Standards Code of California exists to ensure that the buildings within our state meet all safety requirements. This body, along with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), has put together standards of minimum safety requirements for our homes, businesses, and other buildings.
It is interesting to note that even today, many of the high rise buildings where people live in Los Angeles aren’t equipped with fire prevention equipment like sprinkler systems. According to a report by Fox News in Los Angeles, several residents at the Brentwood Plaza high-rise apartment complex found out the hard way that their building was not up to code when a fire started on the sixth floor and began to spread to other floors in the building.
On Wednesday, January 29th, a fire broke out in the 25-story building located at Wilshire Boulevard and Barrington Avenue in West Los Angeles. Initial reports say the fire began at approximately 8:30 a.m. on the sixth floor and spread to the seventh floor.
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A total of 335 firefighters from multiple agencies were at the to put out the fire Firefighters were able to rescue 15 people safely from the rooftop of the building by helicopter while one man escaped through a window and attempted to scale the building. Firefighters dispatched a hook and ladder rig to bring him off the building and to safety. Authorities say that 11 people were injured, and at least two were hurt critically. Among them was a three-month-old infant who suffered minor injuries.
The Brentwood Plaza Apartment complex was built in 1961 when sprinkler systems were not required. The requirement for a building to have a sprinkler system installed did not begin until 1974. The same building was damaged by a previous fire in 2013, but no sprinkler systems were installed, leading to numerous complaints from residents of the building.
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Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas with the Los Angeles Fire Department told reporters that at least 55 of the highrise buildings in Los Angeles do not meet current fire safety standards. Many of the buildings that don’t meet current fire codes were constructed in the 1960s and 1970s and were grandfathered. This lack of adequate fire protection is controversial, particularly among building owners since bringing them up to code can be expensive.
“If you never have a fire, it’s not a problem,” Terrazas said. “But the problem is, you’ll never know. A fire can start for any reason… for multiple causes.”