Insurance & Technology News
Smoke alarms to become norm after motel fire
Mar 15, 2013 (Florence Morning News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
FLORENCE, S.C. -- America's Best Value Inn motel management in Florence said they are making proactive changes following a fire Wednesday that destroyed a motel room and displaced several people.
General manager Anil Motwani said the motel has installed 30 new smoke detectors and will make sure that guests keep them installed, instead of taking them out so they can smoke in their rooms.
"When we rent them (the rooms), they have them (smoke detectors), but some of these weeklies, they smoke and they're (the detectors) very sensitive and they don't like to go outside and smoke, so they take it out and leave it down there," Motwani said. "I told the maids from now on to make sure they are there."
Motwani said the detectors are wired and they will be aware if the detector is disengaged.
The motel was found in compliance with all codes that applied to the building, which was built in the 1970s.
Several of those codes are common in modern structures nowadays, according to J. Shawn Brashear, Florence's chief building official.
"The 2003 International Building Code required sprinklers to be installed in all R1 occupancies (hotels and motels)," Brashear said. "Prior codes varied when sprinklers were required; most prominent was for buildings three stories or more in height. Fire alarms were required in R1 occupancies with an occupant load of 15 or more as far back as 1985."
County planning director Jay Graham said while buildings constructed in the county after these dates follow these codes, the America's Best Value Inn is exempt since its occupany level has not changed since it was constructed.
Windy Hill Fire Chief John DeLung, who responded to the fire Wednesday with his crew, said his department is responsible for inspecting such buildings in his jurisdiction on a bi-annual basis, but that his recommendations lack enforcement power.
"Even when we do an inspection, it's more of a courtesy. We have no enforcement power," DeLung said. "I can go in there and tell them to do everything, and there's nothing they have to do about it."
DeLung does not recall if there had been an inspection for violations in the past for the motel.
Florence City Fire Marshal Ken Carr said during the past 10 years that has been with the inspection division, they have never had to shut down a building due to compliance issues.
"For the most part, the hotels and motels we inspect, they're in compliance," Carr said. "Usually we find lights may be burnt out or detectors without batteries, but most hotels and motels stay on top of it because of their insurance providers and corporations."
Carr said when he stays at hotels, he makes sure that he is aware of his surroundings should there be an emergency.
"I check for safety amenities. I count doors to the stairwells, note what level I'm on, if there are smoke alarms in the room and if it's a sprinkler facility."
The cause of the fire and the cost of the are still unknown. About 12 people have been relocated to other rooms.
___ (c)2013 the Florence Morning News (Florence, S.C.) Visit the Florence
Morning News (Florence, S.C.) at www2.scnow.com/community/morningnews
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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UPDATED 11:40 PM EST - Jun 17, 2013
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