Cambridge Residents: Is Your Home Up to Fire Safety Code?

August 15, 2012

Last month, my condo association received the following letter from the City of Cambridge, notifying us that we were required to schedule an inspection of our smoke & CO detectors and our fire escapes/second means of egress:

Inspectional Services Letter

Because the letter was addressed to the owners of the home before the condo conversion, back when it was a 3-family, I assumed it was a mistake. I’d never heard of such an inspection, nor had any of my colleagues. But when I called Inspectional Services, I was informed that this inspection DOES, in fact, also apply to condos… basically it applies to any multi-family dwelling, regardless of the type of ownership.

Those of us who see a lot of older multi-families and condo buildings understand that this is a very good idea. Still, the process was not super convenient, as we were required to produce an affidavit signed by an architect, engineer, or licensed contractor, certifying that our back stairs, which function as our emergency egress, were structurally sound. In addition, we had to have a recent smoke/CO detector inspection certificate from the fire department. Fortunately, one of the units in my building had recently sold, and we still had a copy of the smoke certificate. I also luckily have some good contractor contacts, so was able to call in a favor and get this done quickly (and for free!).

Yesterday we had the actual visit from Tom Barry of Inspectional Services, and I’m happy to say that we have passed and won’t have to deal with this again for another five years. But I’m sure a lot of my readers will be facing the same process shortly — they’re apparently going around the city by neighborhoods — so thought I’d share the info. Good luck!

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