The Treacherous Fire Escape

I’ve been working at a job site in an 11-story apartment building that is right down the street from, I’m not kidding, one of those muscle head workout areas on a beach. It’s like Jersey Shore and lots of money in and around this high-maintenance building.

Working on welding the fire escape

In the city, all buildings are required to have 2 stairwells for fire escapes. In this specific building, one stairwell is in the middle and one is an outside fire escape.

The outside fire escape is actually of the kind that are no longer allowed to be built–the kind of fire escape that Brad Pitt chased the bad guy on in Seven … or when I showed my sister the photo, she says it’s the kind of fire escape that Julia Roberts stood on in Pretty Woman… whatever, the point is that they’re no longer allowed to be made. But if a building already has them, they can stay, but they have to be maintained. Well maintained.

And this fire escape is not well maintained at all.  It’s rusted all over, giant rust holes and just major disrepair. If people tried to use this thing to save their lives in a fire, they’d fall to their death because of the giant rust holes!

So far we’ve only gotten the first 4 floors fixed.  We have to cut out the rusted steel and weld the new stuff. And if you’ve been following, you’ll know how happy I am to have a welding job because I get paid more to weld!

Ropes holding steel pieces on that we're going to cut off and me welding

Underneath this fire escape is an alley/parking lot area and so we can’t just cut the steel and let it fall, we have to tie ropes to the steel we’re cutting so that it won’t fall and kill people. We also affixed a tarp underneath part of the fire escape so that people could drive underneath a part of it, but underneath a different part we put cones to keep them away. Of course, people in cars sort of do what they want, and a lot of cars actually just drove right over the cones we put there.

So far we got the ladder and counterweights all fixed, and have been working on all the rust holes. It’s jobs like these where I just hope that there isn’t a fire before we get finished because this thing is in bad shape!

Do you pay attention to construction cones or drive over them if you need? Do you know where the fire escapes are in your building (if you live in my city, there should be two!)?


The Treacherous Fire Escape — 14 Comments

  1. I had no idea that those old fire escapes aren’t being made anymore. I guess it makes sense – all the newer buildings I’ve been in have indoor stairs. I like the look of the old fire escapes, even though according to movies they are used for chasing bad guys / bad guys breaking in as opposed to residents escaping a fire.
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  2. I didn’t realize these kinds of fire escapes were no longer allowed to be built either. I guess they do create other problems and just don’t look as nice. I’m surprised this particular one was allowed to get to such a horrible shape. I’m guessing they were forced to fix it after some kind of fire department inspection.
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    • That’s exactly it, fire marshall inspections having been meaning buildings all around the city are getting retrofitted and brought up to code.

    • Ha, no dude, they are there for a reason :) Accidents happen, things fall, materials fly… people gotta respect the cones!

  3. My car has small tires so I don’t run over those cones. Also if they become damaged or broken the city has to pay for new ones which isn’t really ideal for tax payers.

    • I know, people’s stupidity never ceases to amaze me. Exterior fire escapes are not illegal to have, they’re just no longer allowed to be made… meaning that if you’ve already got one on a building, it’s okay just as long as it’s maintained. ANd of course that’s all just in my city, other cities might have different fire codes on that kind of thing!

  4. When my hubby and I were dating back in high school, he took out a cone with his ’67 Dodge Dart that was being used to block an alternate driveway to a residence. It was all fun and games until we realized it had apparently damaged something underneath the car which he now had to replace. Those buggers are tougher than they look! We now both brake for cones.
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