Pittsburgh apartment complex's fire alarm system to be tested

Tests will be conducted on a Downtown apartment building's fire-alarm system because of reports that it failed Wednesday, when a man was critically injured on a burning sofa.

Deputy fire Chief Dan Hennessy and arson investigator Michael Burns both reported that firefighters didn't hear fire alarms when they were called shortly after 7 a.m. to the Roosevelt Arms on Penn Avenue, said Daniel Cipriani, acting chief of the city's Bureau of Building Inspections.

Burns blamed the fire on careless smoking. He said a man in his 60s who uses an oxygen tank was smoking on the sofa when it caught fire. The man, whose family has not been located, was taken to UPMC Mercy hospital, Uptown.

When firefighters arrived, they heard the alarms in a day-care center located in the building, Cipriani said.

"There were reports that the alarms were not sounding throughout the building," he said. "We will send a fire inspector from our office to test the system."

Firefighters contained the fire to the injured man's third-floor apartment. Residents on the second and third floors were evacuated as a precaution.

Cipriani said the Roosevelt Arms has a fire alarm system that appears to have been installed decades ago.

Building owners could not be reached for comment.

Cipriani said the building is required to have a fire system that sounds throughout the structure. If the system is found to be inoperable or in need of repairs, building inspectors will give the owners a written notice and a deadline for repairing or replacing the system.

Building owners can be fined up to $1,000 a day if the deadline is not met, Cipriani said.