Fires in apartment buildings can be especially dangerous because the blaze may quickly spread among units. While landlords have a legal obligation to provide safe living quarters, tenants also have a responsibility to take fire prevention steps.
Whether you rent an apartment, townhome or single-family home, practice these smart fire safety tips.
Care when cooking
Cooking is the most common cause of home fires. According to data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System, 69% of apartment fires and 35% of single-family home and duplex fires result from cooking accidents.
Whenever you prepare food, remain in the kitchen. Keep watch over items on the stove and in the oven. Clear the area of loose items such as paper and towels that can become ignited. If a grease fire occurs, cover the pot or pan with a lid, turn off the burner, and let the pan cool. Do not pour water on this type of fire.
If you smoke, avoid doing so inside your home. Never smoke after taking medication that causes drowsiness. Do not smoke in bed. Make sure to put out cigarettes completely before throwing the butts away. Follow any provisions in your lease about smoking indoors. Violating these provisions can result in legal liability if a fire occurs.
All rental units in New Jersey must have smoke detectors on each floor and right outside every bedroom near the ceiling. All windows must have fire guards unless they are on the first floor or open onto a fire escape.
If your apartment does not comply with these regulations, you should ask your landlord to comply with the state law. If he or she refuses, you can file a complaint with the New Jersey Bureau of Housing Inspection.
If you or a family member suffers injury in a fire caused by landlord negligence, you can seek legal damages for medical bills and other costs.