Good Question: Could London’s Grenfell Tower fire happen in the U.S?
(KUTV) Britain held a moment of silence on Monday for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. 79 people are now believed to have died in the fire that swept through the high-rise apartment building last week. Flames engulfed the building in less than an hour early on June 14, trapping many residents before firefighters could reach them.
Asked whether or not something like that could happen in Utah, Sandy City Fire Marshall Robert DeKorver said, "I think something like that could happen pretty much anywhere."
DeKorver is paying close attention to news reports out of London, watching to see if the fire inspectors determine the building had working sprinklers or fire alarms. What has been reported is that, before the blaze, residents had been told that if there was ever a fire, they should stay put and await further instructions.
DeKorver says that's bad advice.
“If you hear the alarms, you should evacuate the building," he said.
DeKorver says he is especially concerned that false alarms desensitize people to the noise of a fire alarm. He recognizes that evacuating is a hassle and, statistically speaking, it's usually not an emergency. A fire alarm doesn't always distinguish between a small fire on a stove, a kid pulling an alarm as a prank, or even too much steam from a shower.
On the streets of Salt Lake, Get Gephardt spoke to several people who said they have ignored fire alarms while at home or work, including Grace who was at a hospital recently when a fire alarm went off. She says nobody evacuated.
"We all just kind of looked around and didn't really know what was going on," she said.
DeKorver says three out of five fire related deaths happen in a building where there isn't a working fire alarm, and those alarms don't do any good if people hear them but chose to stay put.
"Fire alarms are there as the communicator, to say that there is a problem,” he said. “If that alarm is going off, whether you're in a restaurant or stadium or movie theater, you need to evacuate."