• Mayor questions whether lapsed fire escape inspection contributed to deadly fire


    Reporter Mike Beaudet

    Producer Kevin Rothstein

    FOX UNDERCOVER (MyFoxBoston.com) -- One-third of the fire escapes up and down the Beacon Street block where two Boston firefighters died fighting a blaze haven’t been inspected within the past decade, a FOX Undercover review of records shows, a violation of the state building code that requires inspections every five years.

    That includes 296 Beacon St., where authorities say welders installing iron railing accidentally set off the fatal fire next door at 298 Beacon Street. The last inspection at 296 Beacon Street was done in 2004, raising the question of whether the work that started this year’s blaze would have been unnecessary had the required 2009 inspection and any ensuing repairs been done.

    The failure to inspect the building, and the city’s failure to ensure it was inspected, raised the ire of Boston’s new mayor, Marty Walsh.

    “Two of our heroes lost their life in that fire. I'm not sure that was the cause, but regardless if that was the cause or not, we still should have inspected that property,” he told FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet.

    Fire code expert Amy Cronin, now president of Strategic Code Solutions, said required maintenance may have been picked up in 2009 had the inspection been done.

    “We have to question, if it had been done in 2009 perhaps there may have been some damage there. If you think about rust, if you catch it early enough before there's massive damage and there needs to be reconstruction, maybe the welding would have never been done,” Cronin said.

    In a twist, the last time the fire escape behind 296 Beacon St. was inspected it was done by Giuseppe Falcone. Falcone was the owner of the Malden welding company D&J Iron Works. Both Falcone the company are being sued by the owner of the building that burned, accused of being negligent in doing the welding that started the blaze. Falcone has denied being responsible, and his lawyer says the company was disbanded and so can’t have done the welding.

    The owner of 296 Beacon St., through a spokesperson, won’t say whether or not the work that started the fire was to fix the fire escape. Instead the spokesperson would only say “safety railings” were being installed.

    The records reviewed by FOX Undercover show it’s not just 296 Beacon St. that has fallen behind on its inspection requirement. In addition to finding that a third of all fire escapes on that Beacon Street block hadn’t been inspected in 10 or more years, records show that two-thirds of the fire escapes were overdue – more than five years without an inspection.

    The city says it has no mechanism in place to track building owners violating the rules about fire escape inspections, and hold them accountable when inspections aren’t done.

    “It seems like everyday something new is coming up around (Boston Inspectional Services Department) and we are looking at revamping a lot of the procedures in there,” Walsh said.

    “Shouldn't the city know if an inspection hasn't been done in all those years?” Beaudet asked.

    “Absolutely it should,” Walsh replied. “There should be a report generated that's able to find out what properties haven't been inspected, so if that's one of the properties that hasn't been inspected on Beacon Street, can you just imagine the other properties in the city of Boston? That concerns me,” Walsh said.

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