Fire marshal talks business regulations after deadly warehouse f - WNEM TV 5

Fire marshal talks business regulations after deadly warehouse fire

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Amid the tremendous grief and devastating loss of life, there are at least some answers emerging from the fire at the Ghost Ship Warehouse that claimed the lives of 36 people.

They include the cause of death - smoke inhalation - and a possible source identified by the ATF - a refrigerator at the back of the building.

Documents released on Wednesday show the warehouse had at least three past complaints over illegally constructed structures inside.

What regulations are similar types of buildings under in Mid-Michigan to ensure they are safe?

"My first priority as fire marshal as the fire inspector is exits, making sure you can get out. Making sure exits are accessible," Saginaw Fire Marshal Ralph Martin said.

He said the fire department has a plan to visit every building in the city every one to two years to try to prevent deadly accidents like the warehouse fire in California.

"So sometimes business owners and also apartment owners may have a fire crew come by and go through their building. We're not there to harass or anything, just trying to make you safe and I hope the public will understand that," Martin said.

Aside from the scheduled and random inspections from the fire department, John Stemple - with Saginaw County Code Enforcement - said inspectors also need help from the public to find buildings that aren't meeting safety standards.

"That's the biggest thing that we can do in our community is just be aware of what's going on around us and if something changes or doesn't look right, report it," Stemple said.

Stemple said inspectors regularly inspect buildings they know are being used. He said it's the buildings without the correct permits that usually cause problems.

"That's where the problems happen. People just set up shop in a building that one might not be designed for that use. It might not have a sprinkler system in it. It might not have fire walls. It might not have the safety features that are needed to occur in that building," Stemple said.

Fire inspectors said an incident like the deadly fire in California could have been prevented if someone would have spoke up.

"If you do see or know of anything like that, we'd appreciate a call or if you even see somewhere that you think that's not safe and needs to be addressed, our number is right in the phone book. Give us a call, we'll come out and check it out," Martin said.

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