WICHITA, Kansas – Smoke detectors are a common find in homes and apartments but a fire that occurred over the weekend has investigators concerned.
The fire was at a duplex in the 100 block of W. Zimmerly and fire investigators have told us today they still haven’t confirmed the man’s identity or the cause of the fire. They have discovered though, that there was not a smoke detector in the home.
“There’s no indication during our investigation of a smoke alarm being present either in the involved half or the uninvolved half and we’re looking into that to see if there’d ever been any present,” said Captain Stu Bevis of the Wichita Fire Department.
Both the state and the city have ordinances that outline the responsibilities of renters and landlords, even down to where smoke detectors need to be located within a home.
“The law is written that any home has to have a smoke alarm and there’s a lot of rules. When we talk about rental property, there is some joined responsibility,” said Bevis.
While it is up to the person renting a unit to maintain the smoke detector and have batteries in it, it is the landlord’s responsibility to have the alarm in the home. If renters report problems to the landlord, those owners by law have to fix it within a week.
What’s more glaring is if there isn’t a smoke detector at all, according to Wichita law, that part of the home is uninhabitable.
Officials are waiting until they have all the information on this most recent case before rushing to judgement on which laws may have been broken.
“Was there one there and it has been removed which unfortunately we find a lot of times?” said Bevis. “Often times we’ll find them lying on the ground. I can’t speak specifically to this case because all the information is still being gathered.”
If investigators do find that there wasn’t a smoke detector in the duplex, that won’t necessarily mean charges will be filed.
Generally a violation, warning or citation will be the penalty but it depends on the circumstances of each case.