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November 14, 1954 - Image 8

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1954-11-14

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ThreeDisastersinEigh tMonths- City irei


Code Violations
Create Problem
Students Occupy Many Fire Traps,
UniversityCity Cooperation Needed

Just a broken down shack on Daniels St. Dry timber, surrounding
brush make it easy prey for fire and injury to children who use
it as "hangout."

"This is a lucky town," Emmet
Zerr, Ann Arbor sanitarian, com
mented during a recent tour of
boarding houses and apartments
which flagrantly violate fire regu-
"With all the fire traps in Ann3
Arbor it's a wonder we don't have
more fires than we do," Building
Inspector John Ryan agreed.
In the last eight months, three
fire disasters, half a million dol-
lars in property destroyed and two
lives lost have left Ann Arbor with
an unenviable fire record.
Composed essentially of old
houses, Ann Arbor is faced with a
serious problem. A random sur-
vey of 600 homes by a citizens
committee showed more than 50
per cent of them in violation of
state or local laws, with half the,
violations classed as serious.
Ten YearsTo Inspect
Ryan has estimated it will take
his department 10 years to inspect
every multiple family' dwelling in
"Most of these homes were ori-
ginally private residences," he
said. "Now that they have been
converted to boarding houses or
apartments, improvements must
be made and additional safety de-
vices installed in order to bring
them in line with state codes."

ways, porches, attics and base-
ments that hasn't been cleared in
years," Ryan said.. -
Conditions which may lead to
spontaneous combustion are ille-
gal under the state code, adopted
in 1917, which determines mini-
mum standards for Ann Arbor.
Vertical Ladders Illegal
Vertical ladders are illegal un-
der any circumstances but even
more useless in case of fire were
frequently found ladders that end-
ed 30 feet above the ground, plac-
ed so as to be virtually inaccessible,
or made of wood.
Dean of Men Walter B. Rea has
pointed out that fire-trap control
must be a joint University-city
project. While the University has
no authority to force landlords to
meet requirements, it can prevent
students from living in homes the
city has found in violation.
Three years ago, a meeting be-
tween University and local offi-
cials attempted to institute a sys-
tem of joint inspection and indi-
cations are efforts along that line
will be renewed.
Reveals Inadequacies



University students live across the hall from this rubbish-littered attic, four stories about the ground. A narrow staircase provides the
only escape in case of fire. Conditions leading to spontaneous combustion are illegal according to Building Inspector John Ryan.


Students, because they tend to tics or uaemenus wieret nere i
stress low rents and "bargains" no fire escape available and only
are easy prey for fire-trap land- one exit.
lords, Ryan noted. With an esti- In case of fire these tenants
mated 6000 students living in non- would be trapped.
University operated or supervised "Our inspections will be bene-
housing, University administrators ficial to students in the long run,"
find it virtually impossible to es- Ryan said. "At least, they'lk get
tablish standards or controls. what they're paying for."
Hasn't Been Cleared Ryan urged students who live
Many violations require exten- in fire-traps to cooperate with his
sive and costly work to correct, department in reporting landlords.
but many do not. "Some of these "We give all complaints priority
homes have rubbish lying in hall- -it might save their lives.

1038 E. HURON-This ladder might come in handy if roomers had
time to maneuver storm window at top, could find way to get from
roof to ground. However, it's not worth much as a fire escape.




Panicky roomers trying to escape searing heat would find exit blocked by litter. Ten minutes time
could remove dangerous condition.

500 E. CATHERINE-Pointed out by John Ryan as a perfect example of proper fire precaution. Walk
down escape means safety.

711 E. CATHERINE-What happens when you reach the little
roof via illegal vertical ladder?




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