Officials Consider Added Motel Fire Safety

Some Reno city officials say a second deadly motel fire underscores the need for increased safety measures at residential motels.

One man died in the Sunday night blaze at the Savoy Motor Lodge. Fire investigators believe the fire was caused by smoking.

Authorities said there was a non-working smoke detector in the victim's room. The lodge is not equipped with a sprinkler system and isn't required to have one under law.

The motel's owner said the smoke alarm was working when the man
moved into the second-floor room more than month ago.

After 12 people died in the Halloween night arson blaze at the historic Mizpah Hotel, Reno Councilwoman Jessica Sferrazza requested a study to examine the costs of requiring sprinklers and alarm systems in residential hotels and other buildings in Reno that are shorter than 55 feet when the building is remodeled or changes ownership.

An updated study will be presented next month to council members, who will decide whether to pursue Sferrazza's recommendation. The proposal would require a change in state law or the approval of the state fire safety committee.

Sferrazza said she realizes that making the improvements will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and does not want to put anyone out of business, but the deadly fires have made it a public safety issue.

"This is another terrible tragedy," Sferrazza said of the motel fire. "If a fire sprinkler was in place, let alone a working smoke detector, we might not have had another person die."

In Reno, none of the 155 hotels that are four stories or lower have sprinkler systems, according to a survey presented by Fire Chief Paul Wagner and Fire Marshal Bill Burney.

Sferrazza wants to look into reducing insurance rates and a city loan program for businesses that voluntarily make fire safety improvements.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)