Garland Co. Apartments Face Code Violations After Fire

- GARLAND COUNTY, AR-- The Lake Hamilton fire marshal confirms Village Square apartments did not meet current safety code when a fire swept through in July damaging 24 units.

Authorities are aware of the problems but say it could be too expensive to force the owner to make upgrades.

Fire crews report arriving at Village Square Apartments 4:27 a m. July 16th to find flames jumping from unit to unit.

Investigators found the building lacked proper fire separation in the attic, no exit signs and sprinklers, features required back in 2003 when the building went up.

"I trusted them. These are pretty new buildings, I thought of course they're going to be up to code why would you question it," says displaced tenant Brigitte Gibson.

RPM Management Inc. President Ron Goss told FOX 16 by phone they will rebuild according to current fire standards, which means sprinklers, updated smoke detectors and new fire alarms among other upgrades. The fire marshal says owners will not be required to fully upgrade older buildings.

"They're saying we're going to make it better, it should have been better. I don't have anything. Everything I owned was in that apartment," says displaced tenant Gwendolyn Edwards.

The fire marshal says he won't force owners to add sprinklers because it would be too expensive and he says there is not any record of the last inspection at the apartment complex. RPM Management Inc. says they are working with the fire marshal to get up to code.

Call your local fire marshal to learn more about safety requirements in your area.

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