Backs rental inspection plan

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 28, 2014 

Two years ago, an early morning fire broke out in a duplex rented by a family of four. Spreading quickly, the fire prevented access to the room where the mother and two daughters had been sleeping. Although badly burned, the father went outside to the window of the bedroom. The mother had tried to lead her children to safety, but she could not. Father broke the window and tried to rescue his family - but he could not.

Firefighters moved furniture blocking the bedroom window and extracted the mother and girls, who were overcome by smoke. Having come close to death, the entire family was hospitalized.

Later, there were some questions about the fire. But the proper time for questions is beforehand, not afterward. Nobody should be trapped by fire and smoke, if inspection can prevent it.

Can rental inspection prevent fires? In Asheville, North Carolina, a rental inspection program was initiated in 1999 and revoked after three years, over objections to the size of the fee. Later, the number of fires was compared before, during, and after, inspection. The results of the analysis are compelling. In Asheville, inspection reduced the number of rental fires by half.

Rental inspection reduces risk to firefighters, and protects tenants. It cuts city costs by reducing the number of fires to be put out. Given a small fee, why would anybody object to such a program?

David Hopkinson

Bellingham

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