The Fire Escape Services Network
Rusty Gold, about us…
The fire escapes industry, as specialized from iron or steel works, was in idea in Francisco Meneses’ head in the late 80’s when the Market Crash of 1987 forced him from a high rolling career in financial services back to running the family business, Meneses Ornamental Ironworks. Cisco studied the local ironworks market and identified a few niches. One niche being custom made and forged ironwork for furniture and bespoke home decorating and the other being fire escapes. Rusty Gold, that’s what Cisco began to call the rusty old fire escapes that were collapsing or ready to collapse everywhere he looked. And Cisco also understood what it meant in terms of safety, after hearing many stories of fire escape collapses during emergencies and that firemen often tell new recruits, “In case of fire, never use the fire escape!” It was clear that standardization of fire escape industry was essential to saving lives and an opportunity to specialize fire escapes from ornamental iron and steel works. Even in Massachusetts, where there is a specific law on fire egress that involves maintenance of fire escapes with inspection every 5 years, over 75% of fire escapes are 50 to 75 years old and many have never been maintained since fabrication and install. Added to this situation is that any fire escape built before 1978 is considered to be painted with lead paint.
Cisco devised a system of fire escape inspection, documentation/reporting of issues and repair criteria which landed clients like Harvard, MIT, and Tufts locally as well as drawing clients from further and further afield, eventually servicing clients nationwide. And again, everywhere he went, the condition of fire escapes was the same, rusty and rotted – about to collapse. Yet, in most these other states, there were no laws – fire or building codes – to require fire escape maintenance or inspection. Tragedies were still happening everywhere and after a fire at a night club killed quite a few people, a local TV reporter – Hank Phillipi Ryan – did a report on the condition of fire escapes in Massachusetts called “NO Way Out” featuring Cisco as the fire escape expert. Even though the laws or codes have not been specific about fire escapes, the courts have, in most cases, found that property owners are liable for their occupant’s safety when fire escapes have failed due to negligence.
It came to Cisco that injuries and deaths would keep occurring as long as building and fire codes did not require fire escape testing, maintenance and certification. He began giving free fire escape awareness seminars and inspection training classes to firemen, building and fire code officials. This then grew into the NationalFireEscapeAssociation.org. In 2012 a new national law was enacted making fire escape maintenance and testing (inspection/load test) a mandatory part of a property’s safety requirements.
2012 IFC 118.104.22.168 Fire escape stairs must be examined every 5 years ,by design professional or others acceptable and inspection report must be submitted to the fire code official.
Having the law is one thing, making sure it is enforced is another. It usually takes a fatality from a fire escape collapse to bring attention to the condition of fire escapes. Is your fire escape safe?
10,000 sq ft Training Center
We are looking for structural engineers, architects or others acceptable to the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) to join our Fire Escape Services Network. We have a new training facility in Lynn, Ma where we can certify you in inspecting, load testing and certification of fire escapes.
We are also looking for Systems Developers to help develop and professionalize the Fire Escape Industry.