Fire escape inspections under microscope in Philly

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In January, an apartment fire-escape collapsed, killing one and injuring two others in Philadelphia.

City Council is mulling whether to change who inspects them and how often. 

Councilman Curtis Jones says he hopes the review of current fire escape inspection procedures will help prevent any additional collapses.

“We are not trying to create onerous situations where it is almost an impossible task to monitor,” Jone said. “We are trying to find a happy medium if not so happy at least comfortable medium.” 

Right now, building owners are responsible for inspecting their own fire escapes.

Deputy Fire Commissioner Henry Costo says the department does not even know how many there are in the city, though many are quite old and are showing their age.

“Such as rust, bolts pulling from walls and parts of fire escapes that do not function,” Costo said.

 Among other options, Council is considering mandating independent inspections every five years. But there are more than a quarter-million rental units in the city, so ensuring all get reviewed could take a long time.

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