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Fire code violations found in Franklin group home

By: Mike Koury | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 15, 2016


FRANKLIN — Franklin firefighters responding to a blaze at a group home on Bloomington Court reportedly found that the facility contained multiple fire code violations.

Officials discovered three instances of violations in Franklin Home, 24459 Bloomington Court, after a fire broke out near one of the showers around 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5.

The violations included a window that was screwed shut with three wood screws; an evacuation sign that labeled three exits to the home, even though there were only two; and one of the two exits, leading out to the back, was jammed by a chair that was screwed to the deck.

According to state documents from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, or LARA, the Franklin Home is a group home for adults who are physically disabled, mentally ill, aged or traumatically brain injured.

Fire Chief Tony Averbuch said the fire mostly was extinguished when firefighters arrived at the scene, and firefighters only needed to use a little bit of water to disperse the rest. However, he said that a good deal of smoke had to be cleared from the home. The department utilized two fans to do this, sucking out the smoke in the home and ejecting it out a window.

When Averbuch went to a nearby room to open a window, however, he found that the window had been screwed shut. He only was able to unscrew two of three screws before having another firefighter break open the window to clear out the smoke, as he was unable to find the third screw.

“The window needs to be operable, so that way, if the event comes where you cannot use the door, you should have an alternate (exit),” he said.

The firefighters decided to inspect the entire home and found the other two violations, including one of two exits blocked shut, he said.

“For the adult foster care facility, there must be two means of exit from the building,” he said. “You have to have two different doors. They had two, but one was blocked.

“You could not open it from the inside. I’ve never seen this until now. Someone literally took a chair, leaned it over and jammed the top of the chair under the doorknob. So that way, if you were in the inside of the house and went to open the door, you could turn the knob, but you couldn’t push the door open.”

Averbuch said the manager of the facility told him they did not know how, why or when the door and window were blocked.

In regard to the other violation — an evacuation plan that stated there were three door exits when there were only two in the home — Averbuch said there had been a door, but it was removed and a wall was put in its place.

The home administrator and owner under the business Pathways to Wellness, Janet Patterson, declined to comment on the violations.

Averbuch said he took the next steps in reporting the violations to LARA, which will issue a final report on the violations.

According to LARA documents available at press time, the home did not have any previous code violations but did have two violations with staff, where one member reportedly was fired for providing a resident with marijuana and another was suspended for allegedly failing to properly supervise a community outing to Meijer during which a resident purchased alcohol and three consumed it.