St. Louis City fails to cite some homes without working smoke de -

St. Louis City fails to cite some homes without working smoke detectors

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ST. LOUIS ( – The St. Louis Fire Department hands out thousands of free smoke detectors every year, but despite those efforts, nearly half of homes and apartments don’t have a working smoke detector.

Earlier this month, two children were seriously injured in a fire in the West End neighborhood. The initial finding was that the apartment did not have working smoke detectors, but it was later discovered the home did have working smoke detectors but they were improperly installed.

“It’s very frustrating, especially when you have children. When you see kids huddled in a room in the smoke and all they needed was a smoke detector,” explained St. Louis Fire Department Chief Dennis Jenkerson.

In that case, no one was cited under the city’s ordinance requiring smoke detectors.

The city ordinance in part reads, “Any owner or other person who is convicted of violating any provision of this chapter shall be punished by a fine of not less than $25.00 or more than $500.00 or by imprisonment for not more than 90 days or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

It’s up to the city's building division to issue citations and inspect buildings. News 4 asked Frank Oswald, the building commissioner, why property owners weren’t facing a fine.

“Whether it was the tenants responsibility, whether it was the landlords responsibility, the city doesn’t say who's responsibility it is per say,” explained Oswald.

The city inspects every residence prior to getting an occupancy permit being allowed and they won’t issue one without working smoke alarms. 

 “I think the ordinance should be followed, we report when there’s no working smoke detectors in the building,” said Chief Jenkerson. 

 But whether it's the fine that does it, or the fear of a fire happening to you, Jenkerson said there's simply no excuse to not have a working smoke detector.

 “I’ve got 5,000 smoke detectors down stairs,” explained Chief Jenkerson. “I want to use them, I want to use them all."

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