Code Compliance Investigation Results: Fire Alarm System Not Monitored During Fatal Holyoke Fire
State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey announced the results of his code compliance investigation into the New Year’s Day fatal fire in Holyoke. “The communications connection between the fire alarm system and the alarm monitoring company was broken at 11:47 p.m. on December 30, 2016 in the building at 106 North East Street and not restored before the fatal fire that took three lives occurred less than 48 hours later,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. The reason for the communication loss is unknown.
Fire Alarm Operated and Notified Occupants
During the fire, the local alarm sounded within the building, alerting occupants to the danger. Because the monitoring connection was broken, the fire department was notified of the fire by 9-1-1 calls that came after the fire had been burning for some minutes. “This terrible tragedy reminds us to react quickly to any fire alarm: get outside fast and call 9-1-1,” said Ostroskey.
Monitoring Company Called Property Manager Several Times
Records indicate the fire alarm monitoring company called the emergency contact number at the property management company several times over the holiday weekend to alert them to the lost communications connection. The fire alarm monitoring company was only required to contact their customer.
Fire Alarm System Required to Be Monitored
The building had a low-voltage fire alarm system installed in February 2011 in common spaces, which included remote monitoring by a fire alarm monitoring company. Individual apartments had single-station battery-operated smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. In 2011, fire alarm systems were required in older buildings with more than six units and the system in this building was required to be monitored.
Fire Alarm Systems Must Be Tested and Maintained
Fire alarm systems are required to be tested annually and maintained. As a result of the fire code compliance investigation by the Fire Safety Division in the state Department of Fire Services, the owner of the building has received a non-criminal citation for failure to have the fire alarm system tested annually. Since the alarm worked properly inside the building, it is impossible to say whether the lack of regular testing would have had any effect on the lost communications between the system and the monitoring company.