Code compliance saves business

The Allen County, Indiana, Building Department was recently contacted by a local fire department following a commercial business fire to evaluate the need for an emergency demolition order for the portion of the building that remained standing. In my capacity as Building Commissioner, I responded to the call and met with fire officials and the owner of the business.

Although the investigation into the cause of the fire had not been completed, preliminary review pointed to arson. As we discussed how to handle the remainder of the building and the substantial amount of debris, the owner commented that he now understood the benefits of fire and building codes. He noted that the portion of the building that was still standing, containing the administrative offices, had recently been remodeled and that the contractor had been required to add fire separation walls between the office area and the warehouse. This had increased the cost for the work but, as the owner now acknowledged, turned out to be worth every penny.

While there had been some damage to the offices, all of the company’s paper files and computer records were able to be salvaged. In fact, less than eight hours after the fire was reported the owner and his crews were in the process of moving the material to another building in preparation for the resumption of business activities. While losing his facility was a hardship, the owner still had an operating business because the building and fire safety codes had been followed.

The fire occurred at 3 a.m. so the building was empty and there were no injuries or deaths, but the codes also protect in other ways. In this case, a business was able to recover critical records and continue operations with minimal downtime.

Story submitted by
David O. Fuller, C.B.O.
Building Commissioner
Building Department
Allen County, IN