Lack of Extinguishers Frustrates Tenants

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MASON CITY, IA – Fire crews were called out on North Pennsylvania in Mason City, but according to tenants this was only half the problem.

“I’m not trying to point fingers at anyone. This could have happened to anyone, anywhere,” said Kristina Portis of Mason City.

On Sunday, the Mason City Fire Department responded to a fire at an apartment building on north Pennsylvania Avenue. While crews were able to contain the flames, tenants say they were frustrated there were no fire extinguishers on the property.

“”If we weren’t home, and that fire took place, that whole building would have been up. The neighbors downstairs might not have gotten out and that’s the part that really shakes me,” said Portis.

“As I have done this job, it has never come up before. Usually if anything like this comes up, it usually comes in after the fact. We usually don’t get a complaint ahead of time to where we can address it,” said Ray Quayle, Mason City Housing Inspector.

According to officials, this is a violation and one they take seriously.

“Mason City housing code says that there has to be a fire extinguisher in an apartment building’s units. They have to be in an accessible area, it doesn’t mean that everyone has to have one, but it has to be within easy reach of everybody,” said Quayle.

While the city is taking steps to make landlords aware of these issues, they do say crime can be to blame for making it very difficult to keep those extinguishers in place.

“We’ve had it where they’re putting them in and their getting stolen and we understand that, but they still have to be maintained in those areas,” said Quayle.

“It’s a win, win situation. The landlord provides the fire extinguisher, something happens, right away you have that option to put out the fire,” said Portis.

Ray says he’s made contact with the landlord and that in most cases, the property owner would get 30 days to correct the issue.

However, when it is a matter of safety, the Housing Inspector reserves the right to shorten that time.

“If you see something wrong with the property as a tenant, please get a hold of us ahead of time, not when you move out. Please notify us ahead of time and if you have any concerns,” said Quayle.

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