Fire Safefy a Concern

Jan 292004
Authors: Holly Stollsteimer

Jean Robbins, a manager at Ram’s Village East Apartments,

recalls two fires in the 10 years she’s been there.

The fires, Robbins said, were only grease fires and were

extinguished before the Poudre Fire Authority arrived. These fires

were put out immediately because all apartment units are required

to have a fire extinguisher in every kitchen, according to


While this requirement comes from the apartment’s property

insurance, there is a city code apartments must comply with as


Mike Gebo, inspector for the City Building and Zoning

Department, said Fort Collins has a “non-owner-occupied housing

standard.” This regulates all existing rentals, such as houses,

apartments, and hotel and motel buildings.

In 1927, according to Gebo, the local code required apartments

with 16 or more units to have fire sprinklers and alarms. However,

in 1997 the code was changed to require these installations only if

the building had more than 16 units.

“We will inspect apartments and make sure they comply with the

rental code,” Gebo said. “As long as they’re in compliance with the

code they were built under, they’re still in compliance today.”

Heather Barnes, office manager of Rams Village East, said the

apartment complex was built in 1991. The units are equipped with

fire alarms and extinguishers, but no sprinklers. Robbins said the

apartments are not required to have sprinklers because it is not a

regulation for buildings with less than three stories, and was not

a requirement when the property was built.

Robbins said retrofitting the property with sprinklers would be

very difficult, and as of now, is not needed.

“It isn’t necessary as long as people are being careful,”

Robbins said.

Ram’s Crossing was built in the 1970’s, according to manager

Jessica Jones. The property is equipped with one or two fire

extinguishers per building, and each unit has a fire alarm. She

said sprinklers aren’t needed because the ceilings aren’t high


The only time Jones recalls an alarm going off was when a

resident burned their food.

Lindsey Satterfield, manager of Ram’s Park, said each unit is

equipped with smoke detectors as well as sprinklers, because the

property was built in 2001. However, Satterfield said there has

been no need for either so far.

“We’re brand new, but we’ve never had any problems,” Satterfield


The Poudre Fire Authority inspects apartments, hotels and motels

yearly, Gebo said. Occasionally, they will require an upgrade in a

property’s requirements.

Retrofitting will not take place unless a building has remodeled

or changed in a way to where they would now meet today’s code, Gebo


If a building has neglected making changes or keeping up with

its requirements, Gebo said it will be ordered condemned, and all

tenants are required to leave, and the building must be secured. If

the owner of the building still refuses to make changes, and lets

the condemned property become a hazard, Gebo said it will then be


“We’re really looking at life, health and safety,” Gebo said.

“The greater the hazard, the quicker we respond.”

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