Lake Street fire shows landlords need safety education

Minnesota Lawyer, by Barbara JonesMarch 06, 2014

Minnesota Lawyer, by Barbara Jones

The main issue is a general lack of fire-safety education for building owners.

Six people died in April 2010 from breathing carbon monoxide as their home burned down around them. The building had a pub on the lower floor and six apartments above it. The fire inspectors hadn't been in the residences for 16 years.

But Marion Realty continued to hold rental permits while disregarding fire safety, said attorney Jeffrey Montpetit, who represented some of the heirs of the fire victims.

"The main issue [of this case] is a general lack of fire-safety education for building owners and understaffed enforcement officers," Montpetit said. "Unfortunately, code enforcement is focused on large loss-of-life potential that can occur in high rises or night clubs, so small apartment complexes go unnoticed. If landlords are unaware of their responsibilities, there is no one educating them. Sometimes the insurer enforces fire safety requirements but not always. A simple training class requirement for landlords would at least add awareness if nothing else."

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