SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

February 28, 2014

Letter: Time to improve fire safety rules

To the editor:

This is in reference to your Feb. 17 story “Salem to crack down on fire inspections.” This is the time to address a serious shortcoming in fire safety not only in Salem, not only in the state, but throughout the country. It has to do with the placement of the fire exit signs above the doorway out. Most of us have learned since childhood that when caught in a fire to drop to the floor and get out as soon as possible. The reason being that smoke, being lighter than air, rises to the top, leaving a space of a few inches at the floor level to exit, hopefully with your life. This is still the preferred method mentioned in many room directories when staying for the night on the road. The smoke at the top of the room, depending on the class of the fire, will obliterate the exit sign. Now you are crawling along a floor headed for a door unmarked and leading you into another room rather than outside to safety.

I have noticed in my travels that the traditional red exit sign is being replaced with a green exit sign. I would imagine this is to accommodate persons who are color blind to red.

We can surely enhance the state safety code.

The most important safety matter with respect to emergency egress during a fire was cast aside due to business accommodations. In other words, the buck came before saving of a human life. Massachusetts mandates two means of egress in buildings catering to the public. Only one of those entryways is required to be accessible to persons with a disability. That person better hope that the exit necessary for a person with a disability to utilize is NOT the one blocked by fire.

I have always maintained that if the commonwealth is providing for accessibility, it has the responsibility to provide for an exit should the person be disabled. To do otherwise is negligent. Perhaps, this is the time and place to set a new standard of fire safety.

Kenneth Bonacci

Salem

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