In Council News, Curtis Jones, Jr., Darrell L. Clarke, News by PHL Council

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PHILADELPHIA, PA, January 20, 2022 – Following a deadly rowhome fire in the Fairmount neighborhood that claimed 12 lives earlier this month, City Council today introduced legislation that would provide property owners or landlords who install Fire-Escape Rope Ladders with a credit against their city business taxes.

The legislation, introduced on behalf of Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) by Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr. (4th District), chairman of Council’s Public Safety Committee, comes after a terrible fire on January 6th on North 23rd Street in Fairmount that broke out in the early morning hours and quickly consumed a two-story apartment inside a 3-story red brick rowhouse. The fire, which began when a toddler used a lighter that ignited a Christmas tree, spread so fast through the apartment that only the child and one adult managed to escape. Three adult women and nine of their children died in the blaze.

Under the legislation introduced today, property owners or landlords who install Fire-Escape Rope Ladders, and have their purchase and installation verified by appropriate city agencies, will be permitted to apply their expenses for a credit against their Business Privilege Taxes.

Property owners and landlords will be required under the legislation to submit their plans to install these escape ladders to the city Department of Licenses & Inspections, and also to have a written analysis done by an engineer or qualified professional confirming that the fire escape ladder is safe for the property in question, will be situated near a window or other safe, accessible point of egress within the property, and meets any other requirements established by regulations to be set by L & I, the Fire Department, or any other appropriate city agency.

Once that is done, the property owner may then apply for the business privilege tax credit from the Revenue Department.

“This is one small step, but anything that induces property owners and landlords to add additional fire safety measures inside their properties is important and worth doing,” said Council President Clarke. “We will continue doing anything within our power to make residential properties safe from fire for every resident of our city.”

The fire-escape rope ladder tax credit legislation will be subject next to a public hearing in  the Public Safety Committee, chaired by Councilmember Jones.

“Philadelphia, like other major cities, should take precautionary steps to give residents ways out of fire hazards.  This bill is one additional step,” said Jones.

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