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Grill Fire Law Proves Difficult To Enforce

The state relies heavily on apartment complex managers to enforce the grill fire laws because enforcement officers cannot inspect every apartment.

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Photo: Ben Skirvin/WFIU News

A grill caused a fire that burned down several condos at Monroe Lake last week.

An apartment fire last week at Lake Monroe and several smaller fires over the past year have raised questions about the enforcement of fire safety standards.

State law prohibits apartment residents from using an open flame grill on their patios or decks unless they have a built-in sprinkler system. Property managers can issue fines for residents who do not follow the rule, but that rarely happens.

“We do inspections on the property bi-weekly,” Bloom Apartments resident director Julie Taylor said. “So if we find a grill on their patio or balcony we’ll send them a notice.”

If the resident ignores the notice, then the landlord issues a violation. If the resident still does not remove the grill, they can receive a fine up to $250 per day.

The law does not require property managers to do any of this.

“I know nothing in the code that requires them to enforce the code,” Indiana State Fire  Marshal Jim Greeson said.

Greeson said inspectors cannot keep track of all the apartments in the area so they rely on property managers to keep their tenants in check.

“It really needs to be done through the property managers because local code enforcement staff usually does not know when someone who lives in an apartment building goes out and even purchases a grill,” he said.

Both the Fire Marshal’s office and apartment managers say few fines are issued because residents typically comply with initial requests to remove the grills.

 

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