Everett says 17 apartment complexes violate fire code

By: Graham Johnson

Updated:

EVERETT, Wash. - On New Year's Eve, fire ripped through the Bluffs apartments on Casino Road in Everett.

The three-alarm fire began in one unit and quickly spread.

It killed a 65-year-old man, and upset people who live in the neighborhood.

"It's a shame. The apartment complexes, the owners, need to do a lot more to ensure tenants' safety," said Velvett Jones, who lives in an apartment complex down the street.

The Bluffs did not have a complex-wide fire alarm system, and the Everett Fire Department found many other apartment and condo complexes didn't, either.

Since the fatal fire, fire marshals inspected 50 buildings with at least four stories or more than 16 units.

They found 17 with no alarm systems at all and sent them violation notices.

The city is also toughening its code.

Building owners not only need to add pull alarms, but also are required to install heat detectors and mini horns inside each unit.

"We believe it's important to get that early warning to the rest of the residents to evacuate," said Everett Fire Marshal Eric Hicks.

Hicks knows retrofits will be expensive and could take several years.

He doesn't expect to fine any building owners as long as they're working with the city to do the upgrades.

City officials say of the 17 violators, at least four have been in contact so far on doing upgrades, and two have permits.

Hicks said the owners of the Bluffs apartments have been among the most responsive.

© 2017 Cox Media Group.

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