The purpose of this website is to inform you as to your legal rights, and to summarize the vast quantities of literature out there on fire escapes and balconies, and the laws on their maintenance. In most instances, if you were injured on a fire escape or balcony collapse you could file a personal injury lawsuit.
New York City Laws And Safety Regulations
According to The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA’s) report on home fires, the U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 366,600 home structure fires from 2007-2011. Most victims die from smoke inhalation and not from burns. Fire escapes are key to survival in an emergency, therefore, having fire escape passages that are in correct working order is necessary to reduce fire fatalities. New York City’s Local Law 11 also known as the “Facade Inspection Safety Program” (FISP), requires that owners of buildings with six or more stories above an exposed basement wall, inspect their exterior walls periodically. In addition, Local Law 11 requires a report on the cause of any deterioration, and a timetable for repair. Buildings are classified as “Safe,” “Unsafe,” or “Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program” upon inspection.
Fire Escapes: Life Savers That Can Be Life Hazards
A fire escape is a special type of emergency exit, usually mounted to the outside of a building or sometimes inside but separate from the main areas of the building. It provides a way of escape in the event of a fire or other emergency that renders the stairwells inside a building inaccessible. Fire escapes are most often found on multi-story residential buildings, such as apartment buildings. Needless to say, they are a very important aspect of fire safety for all new construction in urban areas. Following a history of disastrous fires in New York City, fire escapes were mandated by the 1867 tenement law and have been a New York City icon since. Further architectural advances saw an increase in high rise office buildings that pushed the skyline of New York City, leading to the 1916 New York City Building Code that required one stairwell for each 2,500 square feet of floor area in an office building.
As building codes became more common in countries around the turn of the 20th century, fire safety became an important concern for new construction. Subsequently, building owners were progressively required to provide adequate escape routes, and at the time, fire escapes seemed the best option available. They could be included in new construction at a low cost, and could very easily be added to existing construction. As building codes developed and more safety concerns addressed over subsequent editions, all construction above a certain number of stories were required to have a second means of exit.
What To Do After A Fire Escape Or Balcony Collapse
Unfortunately, when a fire escape or balcony collapses there is typically a free fall from a height. This leads to very serious injuries and in some cases death. Fire escapes and balconies, if maintained correctly, don’t just fall from buildings when used as intended. They collapse due to negligence. Landlords and building owners may neglect maintenance and in some instances, these fire escapes and balconies have not been inspected in years.
There are many reasons why these external escape routes/amenities collapse:
- Wood rot
- Water damage
- Structural damage
- Improper installation
At Banville Law, we know how difficult this time is for you and your family. We understand that you will be experiencing a range of emotions. Our personal injury lawyers regularly file claims against the large number of building owners who are responsible for knowingly violating fire escape and balcony building codes and endangering people’s lives. You have legal rights and you deserve to be compensated for the pain and suffering you are going through. You may be entitled to substantial financial compensation depending on your circumstances. At Banville Law, your health comes first. We ensure you are comfortable and we take all the pressures of the lawsuit away from you and your family as we fight to punish those responsible for your injury. Contact us today for a free consultation and an experienced lawyer will be here to help. Remember, you don’t pay anything unless we win your case.
Our Lawyers Serve The Entire State Of New York
While our main office is located in Manhattan, these types of cases require lawyers experienced in the investigation of the collapse. Our New York fire escape collapse lawyers have handled such cases before and as a result we can find the relevant codes, experts, and investigators to formulate the best case for protecting you and your family’s legal rights. Our experienced lawyers are from the following areas of New York: