COLUMBUS - 

State Senators Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) and Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) today introduced legislation aimed at keeping renters safe in the event of a fire. The bill requires a separate means of egress for all dwelling areas above the second story of a residential rental property.

“When a fire breaks out, you have moments to make a decision on how you will escape. Every second matters and ensuring you have an escape plan in place is critical,” said Beagle.

The need for legislative action became evident after two University of Cincinnati students, Ellen Garner and Chad Kohls, were trapped in a third story attic bedroom when a fire started on the second floor. The only safe exit from the room was an internal staircase, which quickly became engulfed in smoke. The 36-foot jump from the third story window onto the cement pavement was not a viable escape route. Ellen and Chad were trapped and decided to try to escape through the smoke-filled stairwell. They passed out from smoke inhalation before the fire department could rescue them, and the two later passed away at a nearby hospital.

Currently, rental homes that have more than two stories are not required to have any secondary means of egress. Additionally, it is common for landlords renovate an attic or top floor into a bedroom, despite the staircase being the only safe means of egress. This practice is often seen in off-campus housing statewide and poses a serious threat to students.

“Egress ladders can be an inexpensive lifesaving tool,” said Lehner. “We need to make sure our families, neighbors, and children can get out alive and safely.”

Representative Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek) also introduced similar legislation today in the Ohio House. Both pieces of legislation now await committee assignments.

For additional fire safety statistics and tips, click here

 
 
 
  
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