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Fire Captain Loses Life Due To Grandfather Clause

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Asheville Fire and Police Departments have determined that the tragic fire on July 28th, at a Medical Office Complex in Asheville, NC. was deliberately set. A Fire Department Captain was suffered cardiac arrest and died battling the flames. Ten other firefighters were treated for minor to serious injuries. Over $20 million in damage occurred as a result of the fire. What remains unknown is who started the blaze and why.

The building safety director for the city said the death most likely could have been prevented if the building been equipped with sprinklers. The facility was built prior to North Carolina changing its fire code requiring multi-family and high-occupancy buildings to have sprinkler systems and the owners were not required to retrofit.

Sometimes a new city ordinance or building code change will immediately cause hundreds of older buildings to be in violation. But, rather than bringing buildings up to code, the government will insert a grandfather clause – an exemption allowing current businesses or property owners to continue operating under previous laws – into the language of the new regulation. In this case, the medical facility may have been exempt from modern sprinkler laws because the retrofitting would be too costly. Although a grandfather clause is often used to benefit owners who may otherwise face financial or personal hardship under new regulations, it is also allowing unsafe conditions. Is this another case of lawmakers putting the interests of the business community over citizens? Do tragedies like this one reveal the underlying weakness in the system?

We urge business owners to be proactive and go beyond minimum code requirements in making their buildings as safe as possible.

The families of those injured and killed in the fire may decide to talk to a personal injury attorney about their rights. If there was negligence on the part of the building owner, a personal injury lawsuit is likely.
Cases like this tend to take a long time from lawsuit commencement to lawsuit resolution; litigants/family members, struggling to make ends meet dealing with with funeral and burial or medical assistance expenses rendered at the time of the fire, may wish to consider applying for lawsuit funding. This is a service that provides a lawsuit cash advance to people involved in pending lawsuits. The main purpose of this legal finance service is to prevent cash strapped litigants from having to settle their valuable cases too soon, for too little, because the need lawsuit cash now. Legal funding may make a substantial difference in the bottom line of your case.

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