Fatal shelter fire raises questions of safety for those with disabilities
A man boarding at a homeless shelter in North Philadelphia that serves youth and disabled veterans died early on Friday as a fire consumed the building around 3 a.m., according to CBS Philly.
Alliance of Youth Mission Ministries, an interfaith organization located on the 3000 block of North 22nd Street, near Allegheny, was housing nearly two dozen individuals who were displaced by the fire and taken to other shelters. Two of those living in the building were taken to the hospital after inhaling smoke.
Once firefighters arrived at the scene, the fire was brought under control.
Firefighters told the media that the man killed in the fire was found on the third floor in his room with a walker next to his bed. The man’s identity has not yet been revealed, but it is possible that he was disabled.
Police reported that they are looking into whether the alarm system was working and if residents could safely exit the building before the fire worsened. So far, investigators got mixed responses when interviewing those involved in the fire.
Fire safety is a specific concern for those with disabilities, who are at a greater risk of dying in a fire because of difficulty in escaping. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that buildings inform those with disabilities of a continuous, unobstructed path to safety that can be traveled without assistance. However, the association recognizes that some assistance may be required, especially for paths that involve descending levels without ramps or elevators.