YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It could be the North Side, South Side, or Downtown Youngstown, firefighters know the addresses of every high-rise building in the city.
“Every fireman in the city has buildings in their district that come in all the time,” said fire Chief Barry Finley.
Chief Finley said the city didn’t record a single serious fire in a high rise last year, but firefighters did answer alarms to most of them. He said his crews respond to calls at Youngstown State University 300 or 400 times a year — mostly for someone cooking or steaming from a shower.
Very rarely do occupants evacuate the buildings.
“No matter what, no matter time of day, no matter weather, a fire alarm goes off, you’re supposed to exit the building,” Finley said.
Over the weekend, 17 people died in a high-rise fire in New York City. Some complained that alarms went off there so regularly that people ignored them.
The fire chief said the rule of thumb is to get out of a building when an alarm goes off. But he admits since most don’t follow that rule, he suggests that unless your floor is directly involved with the fire, to stay where you are and eventually, firefighters will come to find you and make sure you’re OK.
Finley the worst scenario is when residents realize too late there really is a fire and they flood the stairwells trying to escape.
“We have just compounded our problem because we’re trying to get up, they’re trying to get down. They’re more important, so we have to stop what we’re doing to try to get as many of them out as we can,” he said.
The chief adds that while cities like New York are used to high-rise fires, this area is not, admitting that a serious fire in one of these buildings would force the city to call in mutual aid from all around the area.