Fire Hazards: Can Policies and Covenants Help Prevent Them?

By Curtis G. Kimble.

Last month, I happened to catch several stories about fires that broke out in attached homes or condominiums.  Fires are especially worrisome in attached type housing where owners share walls and roofs because the potential for damage, injury or death becomes so much greater.

In one condo fire in Arizona, firefighters said hoarding fueled the fire after the homeowner lit a cigarette and then tossed his lighter to the side as he went into the kitchen.  Hoarding and fires are a dangerous combination, a combination that is apparently occurring more and more.  In a Murray fire in Utah a couple of weeks ago, firefighters blame a dryer for starting the fire, saying the fire was a reminder to make sure lint filters and dryer vents are kept clean.  In a Thanksgiving day fire in Midvale, two condos were damaged when a fire broke out, apparently caused by faulty wiring in an electrical socket.

The dryer fire story, coupled with a much more tragic story about a dryer fire in Salt Lake about a year ago where a 5 year old died, impresses upon us the importance of maintaining and periodically cleaning out dryer vents.  For boards whose associations perform that maintenance item, don’t forget to make sure this important task is carried out.

Are smoking, hoarding, dryer vents, and other fire hazards addressed in your association’s governing documents?  If not, should they be?  It’s always difficult to enforce restrictions on behavior within units and there is no magic solution to that, but the danger that fire hazards pose underscores the reality that when a person lives in close proximity, shared roof, shared wall housing, their actions and habits can have far reaching and dangerous consequences to more people and property than just them and their unit.  This is why covenants and rules are so important in these communities.

Contact us if you need help enforcing, reviewing or changing your association’s governing documents.


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