Are your windows stuck? Take action. - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Are your windows stuck? Take action.

January 9, 2003

Albany - When was the last time you opened the window to your bedroom? Do you even know if you could open it if your home caught on fire? It's a scary thought, but your home could be a fire death trap.

Think about where you live. If a fire started in the kitchen and you're in the bedroom, could you escape by simply opening a window? Not in my apartment. I could barely sleep thinking I had no escape, so I decided to get Albany Fire Inspector David Lockett to take a look. He says, "Let's see. It seems that your window is painted shut."

So, I got my friend to try the kitchen window. I say, "A guy this size can't even open this window, what about someone my size?" Lockett says, "It's very dangerous." The window was so stuck, the force to pry it open, broke a pane and cut my friend's hand. I asked the inspector, "Is this apartment a death trap?" Lockett says, "Yes it is, you've got two problems, one you can't open window and two you could get cut by sharp edges in window."

The building code states, "Every sleeping room on the first and second story of Group R occupancies shall have at least one operable exterior window or exterior door approved for emergency egress or rescue. The units must be operable from the inside to a full clear opening without the use of separate tools or keys."

We'll tell you what action the inspector takes with my apartment complex, but first we decided to try another apartment complex in Albany. Service Technician, Al Hammond, explains, "I came in this morning and painted apartment and have a ready list."

The check list is used before a new resident moves in. Hammond points at list, "Some important things, window latches, locks, window operation, check smoke alarm in case apartment catches fire."

Hammond has worked at this complex for 12 years, he's never heard a complaint about windows getting stuck, but they have metal frames. Lockett says, "Because you're a renter, you are buying a service and when you purchase a service you expect to get what you purchased. This is part of maintenance, they have to come out and take care of what's wrong in apartment."

Now, back to my situation, Lockett gave the complex a citation and two weeks to fix the specific apartment. After that, the complex has to have a written agenda and a time frame to check and fix all windows.

The apartment office manager says recent outside renovations, like painting and pressure washing, is to blame. They promised to send out warning letters to all residents and send a maintenance crew to each apartment. Anything to make residents like me feel safer.

I told the apartment manager about the problem a few months ago. It was never fixed. After Thursday's citation, if the problem continues, the Fire Department can hand out a 50-dollar fine and eventually take the management to court.

In 2002, the Albany Fire Department wrote more than 6,800 building code citations for businesses and organizations.

posted at 6:30PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com