SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Occupants of 42 apartments are now without a home after officials said the owner failed to meet fire safety codes, failed to correct noncompliance citations, and police receive nearly 650 calls in one year from its residents.
In a press release issued by the City of Salt Lake and the Salt Lake City Fire Department, the residents are being forced to evacuate their homes after the Fire Marshal deemed the apartment complex unsafe to occupy.
The “Red Tag” order was issued to the Georgia Apartments located at 203 East 2100 South after the owner of the property failed to bring the property up to code. According to the release, the owner was given repeated requests by the Salt Lake City Fire Department (SLCFD) that went unheeded.
Two different inspections, one on December 4, 2018 and one Monday morning, found multiple issues:
1: Fire escapes not certified every five years.
2: Egress blocked/restricted by debris to include couches, tires, mattresses and other waste type material.
3: Wet sprinkler system in unconditioned space (under 40 degrees) due to missing windows, doors and nonfunctional heating system.
4: Missing fire extinguishers resulting in a greater than 75’ of travel.
5: Missing smoke detectors which must be maintained.
6: Vegetation and trees interfering with access to the FDC.
7: Electrical wiring not to code (exposed wiring running from electrical boxes to other electrical item and use of extension cords).
8: Insulation and wiring on sprinkler pipes not permitted.
The Fire Marshal said their immediate concern is the cold weather resulted in the freezing of the building’s sprinkler pipes.
The violations present an extreme fire danger and potential injury and loss of life to all occupants of the building, requiring the evacuation.
The residents will be unable to return until the Fire Marshal determines the conditions no longer exist and the building is safe to occupy in accordance with state law.
Multiple agencies, including the Salt Lake City Fire Department, the Mayor’s Office, Salt Lake City’s Division of Housing and Neighborhood Development, Salt Lake City Police Department, and the City Attorney’s Office, worked together to develop an evacuation plan which includes:
- 72-hours of “Fire Watch” service, allowing the building to stay occupied for three days. Fire Watch service consists of 24-hour safety inspections of the building while it is being evacuated.
- To assist residents with housing needs, a Housing Outreach Center has been established at the Salt Lake County Government Complex, South Building Room 120. The Outreach Center will be open to residents Monday 12:00pm – 5:00pm; Tuesday 9:00am – 12:00pm, 5:00 – 7:00pm; Wednesday 12:00pm – 5:00pm. All occupied units were notified of Outreach Center.
- Service providers at the Outreach Center include Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County Housing Authority, Utah Community Action, Salt Lake City Police Department’s Community Connection Center, Department of Workforce Services, the Road Home, and the Other Side Academy, which is providing free moving services to residents.
- Individuals interested in helping by providing rent and deposit assistance should contact Tony Milner at 801-792-7395.
On Friday, February 8, the owner was informed of the re-inspection that took place Monday morning.
In addition to the “Red Tag,” there were several enforcement actions related to the apartments including citations by the City’s Civil Enforcement for noncompliance with housing and zoning codes, resulting in $4,200 in outstanding fees.
Due to violations and inaction, the owner was suspended from the city’s “Good Landlord Program”. Due to the suspension, the owner is past due fees of $13,524, with an additional $14,514 due on February 28.
In 2018, the Salt Lake City Police Department recorded 647 calls for service to the Georgia Apartments, a 300 percent increase from the 213 calls in 2017. Calls ranged from drug problems, fights, domestic disturbances, trespassing, and a number of other criminal activities.