BOSTON (CBS) — WBZ-TV has discovered troubling information about a recent fire escape collapse in the Fenway neighborhood. Two people were hurt when they fell to the ground.
The owner has not filed a required safety inspection certificate since at least the late 1980’s, according to city of Boston records. We asked a fire escape expert to take a look, and he said this could be just the tip of the iceberg.
It was just before midnight on Sunday when some of the gratings on a fire escape on the back of 47 Hemenway Street gave way.
Several people were on it. Two of them were hurt when they crashed to the ground.
“I see there’s a missing bracket, a single bracket that used to be tied into the rail, and it gave way. I believe that’s why pieces of the grating gave way,” said Cisco Meneses, the founder of the National Fire Escape Association.
We asked him to look at the aftermath of the collapse. You can see where the bracket he’s talking about used to be, and you can see the spot on the wall where it once was attached. He blames rust, caused by a lack of maintenance.
“The rust is what eats the steel. And I believe, based on what I can see right now, she’s rotted right at the building,” Meneses said.
Why wasn’t that caught? There’s no evidence that the fire escape was inspected and safety certified.
“Right now a lot of these fire escapes, if they’re not being properly inspected and repaired, what happens is, we have collapses like this,” Meneses said.
Building owners in Boston are required to have their fire escapes certified every five years, and file that certificate with the city.
But when we searched the database for Boston’s Inspectional Services Dept., we found no certificates on file at least since the late 1980’s, a violation a building inspector has now cited the owner for.
The inspector’s report orders the owner to: “Provide a fire escape and fire balcony affidavit forthwith.”
But that’s not all we found. Just a short walk down the alleyway, Meneses points out another fire escape with holes in the brick where support brackets are anchored.
“There’s three, four supports not even tied into the building anymore,” he said.
Meneses said it’s not uncommon for owners to skip inspections or for private inspectors to gloss over problems.
“Because a lot of people, they collect 200, 300 bucks for a piece of paper,” Meneses said. “Nobody’s checking, and so what happens is, these are landmines ready to explode.”
WBZ-TV News tried to contact the owner of the building where the fire escape collapsed for comment, but two voicemails and an email went unanswered.