UPDATE: Smoke Alarms At Sugarbush Outdated But Legal

By Staci DaSilva | sdasilva@nexstar.tv

Published 02/19 2014 06:54PM

Updated 02/19 2014 07:13PM


A follow-up tonight to a fire that destroyed 36 condos at Sugarbush Resort. While there were smoke alarms in the units, officials say, they did not sound.

It destroyed clothing, important documents and most importantly, memories.

The fire at Sugarbush on Monday was no doubt, devastating. Luckily, nobody was injured.

A feat in itself considering it happened at 1:30 in the morning and officials and witnesses say, smoke alarms did not go off.

‘About 3am we were woken up to banging on the door and it was the Fire Department,” said Alex Hicks who was visiting from Ontario. “And so we were evacuating at that point."

Contrary to initial reports, the Mountainside Condos did have smoke detectors. But because of the age of the building, alarms are far from the newest models. 

They are what are called ionized smoke alarms. The ones at Sugarbush are hard-wired in each condo unit.

“That's not a code violation to have existing ionization alarms,” explained Michael Desrochers, Executive Director of Vermont’s Division of Fire Safety. “Ionization smoke detectors have a tendency to respond slower in smoldering fires."

Officials say the condos were built in the 1970s. Newer buildings must be equipped with photoelectric alarms.

“The photoelectric alarm picks up slow, smoldering fires. Bigger carbon particles are emitted from furniture, a cigarette dropped in a sofa for example,” said Desrochers.

Bringing complexes like Mountainside Condos completely up to date, can be a challenge that officials do not require.

“We enforce the minimum life safety code in existing buildings. In existing buildings, it's not practical, in a lot of cases, you can't install 1-hour fire walls that go up through the attic areas in these buildings, it's not practical,” said Desrochers.

However, if a new condo were to be built in its place, it would require a whole new set of standards.

The cause of the fire is still officially undetermined, but officials believe it was sparked by a fireplace in one of the units.

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