Destroyed apartment building met old code ordinance

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - The building at Arbor View Apartments that burned to the ground Tuesday was not up to the latest building code standards in D'Ibervillle. Had it been up to the latest code, the fire chief said some of the damage may have been minimized.

"Whenever we got the call and I heard which apartments it was, I knew that these were going to be the ones without the sprinkler system and alarm system," said D'Iberville Fire Chief Gerald Smith.

"The building was built in 1997 or 1998. At the time, the building codes didn't require that multi-family structures to have sprinkler systems," said D'Iberville Building Official Hank Rogers.

And at that time, the code also didn't require the building to have an alarm system. Since the 90s, there have been several code changes. The newest code requires sprinkler systems and fire alarm systems in multi-family structures.

According to Rogers, structures like the one that burned down don't have to make an upgrade with each new code.

"You're not required to, every time a building code changes, to upgrade the structure to meet the new building codes. It's what we call a 'legal, non-compliant condition.' At the time the building was built, it was fully in compliance with the building code," said Rogers.

Rogers said if the city made every building meet code every time it changed, buildings would never be finished.

Fire Chief Gerald Smith said the latest building codes help to slow down fires in large buildings.

"We have had a few apartment fires in the past six months or so, probably two or three or four of them. And the difference is with these apartments that had sprinklers, it may not put all the fire out, but it slows it down," said Smith.

Once the state fire marshal determines the cause of the fire, Roger wants to see the debris moved out quickly to avoid any potential harm to residents.

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