Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Town planner says State not required to show floor plans of group home that may have helped firefighters save disabled residents

Further to my post last Tuesday about a fire that killed four disabled residents at a state run group home in Wells, New York (in the Adirondaks), The Times-Union is now reporting that the state was not required to get a building permit and that the home opened in June with no floor plans or blueprints on file with the town or the county. When a building inspector tried to work with the state about inspections, it is reported, he was told to "butt out". According to one of the volunteer firefighters, firefighters may have been more effective in saving lives if documents showing the layout of the home had been available.
A building inspector was told by the state to "butt out" after making inquiries in the months before the construction of a group home that caught fire and killed four disabled residents, Town Supervisor Brian Towers said.

March 29, Towers is questioning the state's decision to refuse an inspection and believes the tragedy at the Riverview group home will force state officials to involve municipalities in the building process.

The state "designed and installed everything" and wasn't required to get a building permit from the town, Towers said last week after an emotional service honoring the fire victims and rescue workers in this close-knit Adirondack town.

"We had almost zero to do with (the inspections)," he added. "We thought it was unusual, and my building inspector tried to work with the state but was told in a frank and polite way to butt out and it's not your business."

Also, the town and county never received floor plans or blueprints for the facility, which would have been helpful to firefighters and rescuers, Towers said.

The full story is here.