City of Boston Should Consider Periodic Smoke Detector Inspections

Last week’s multi-family fire in East Boston that resulted in two deaths is a terrible tragedy.  Sadly, it’s not hard to imagine something similar happening in many East Boston buildings.  Because East Boston properties are densely populated and extremely close to one another, it might be time for the City of Boston to take pioneering steps in fire prevention, and perhaps as a community we should encourage it.  The City of Boston should consider requiring regular periodic inspections (annually or biennially) to make sure every residential unit has properly installed and functioning smoke detectors.

While the Gove Street property may have had adequately installed and properly functioning smoke detectors, it’s not hard to imagine there are East Boston properties that do not.  Most units are equipped with smoke detectors, but over time batteries are sometimes removed if an alarm sounds off while cooking or sometimes batteries are not changed on a regular basis.  And occasionally, smoke detectors are placed in wrong locations.  When faced with leaky roofs, falling snow, freezing pipes, or other property management issues, proper smoke detector installation and maintenance can often be overlooked.  The City of Boston should consider inspecting every residential unit on a regular periodic basis to make sure homes are in compliance with smoke detector laws.  While this might be considered expensive, an inspection cost can be passed on to a homeowner or landlord.  Property owners pay mortgages, taxes, water bills and insurance.  An extra $100 per year, or whatever a smoke detector inspection might cost, would be negligible when added to other annual expenses.  It would be no different than already required annual automobile inspections.  And perhaps the annual awareness about the importance of functioning and properly installed smoke detectors could save future lives.

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