November 22, 2011

Resident Hero Fights Condominium Fire Caused by Smoking on Deck

On September 22, off-duty firefighter Dan Hess grabbed his gear to battle a blaze on the roof of his north Seattle condominium building. Described as a hero by his neighbors, Hess helped to contain a fire ignited by lit cigarette embers that fell through a deck.

The Washington Condominium Act gives associations the authority to regulate the appearance and use of limited common areas like decks unless their governing documents provide otherwise. Condominium boards can thus usually approve rules regulating or restricting smoking on decks in order to reduce fire and nuisance risks. Consulting with the owners to gauge the level of support for proposed rules affecting smoking on decks is a good initial practice. Boards should also consider asking the association’s attorney to evaluate proposed anti-smoking rules before a vote is taken.