Monitoring system failed during deadly fire in Holyoke

The owner of the building has received a non-criminal citation

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The State Fire Marshal’s code compliance investigation into the deadly New Year’s Day fire in Holyoke found that the connection between the fire alarm system and the alarm monitoring company stopped working just two days before.

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said the local fire alarm went off in the building during the fire, but due to the broken connection, firefighters only learned of the fire by 9-1-1 calls made by residents; “This terrible tragedy reminds us to react quickly to any fire alarm: get outside fast and call 9-1-1.”

Michael Wilkinson of Holyoke told 22News, “A lot of these landlords and these buildings are bought by people in New York City and Boston; as long as they are getting their rent payments, they are pretty much absentee.”

Ostroskey said the fire alarm monitoring company called the emergency contact number on file for the property management company several times over New Year’s weekend to tell them about the lost connection, but could not reach anyone.

There was a fire alarm system installed in common areas of the building in 2011, which were the ones that would have been connected to the monitoring company. The State Fire Marshal said each individual apartment had battery-operated smoke alarms.

Omar Gallego of Holyoke said if the system had been working, it might have saved lives; “The fire department probably would have gotten notice faster, and the deaths that happened, probably would have not happened.”

The owner of the building has received a non-criminal citation for failure to have the fire alarm system tested annually. The State Fire Marshal said it is impossible to find out if the lack of testing would have made a difference in the deadly fire, since the alarm itself worked properly at the time.

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