The chart below shows the extensive deaths, injuries and property destruction linked to fires involving Florida Building Code Approved bolted-on hurricane shutters and plywood. There have been 13 deaths, 12 of which are related to the lack of safety release mechanisms, and approximately $50 million worth of homes and condominiums destroyed since 1995.

These tragedies show the risks of injury associated with bolt-on shutter products and the need for the Consumer Products Safety Commission to regulate this consumer product. Without educating consumers regarding the dangers of bolted on hurricane shutters and plywood, homeowner deaths, injuries and property destruction will continue to occur.

SUNTREE — Brevard County Fire-Rescue crews were back at the site of a Wednesday house fire in Suntree this morning after reports of smoke coming from the burned-out garage.

http://www.clickorlando.com/news/hurricane-shutters-put-residents-at-risk-when-fire-strikes/26372808 — If the link does not work, you can find this news video by searching for “Hurricane Shutters put residents at risk when fire strikes”. In this news video from Local 6 News in Orlando, Florida Battalion Fire Chief Leigh Hollins describes how long it would take to cut through hurricane shutters in a fire emergency.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/weather/hurricanes/hurricane-shutters-escape-latch-urged/ngh9n/ — If the link does not work, you can find this news video by searching for “Lawyer wants consumer commission to require escape latches on hurricane shutters”. This story from the Palm Beach Post newspaper details a recent Petition to the Consumer Products Safety Commission about the need for regulations for bolt-on hurricane shutters.

Shutters Blamed in Fatal Blaze That Killed Priest in Fort Lauderdale
By Jaime Hernandez Staff Writer
September 15, 2004

A Catholic priest was killed in a house fire Tuesday night after efforts to rescue him were hampered by hurricane shutters covering the windows. The Rev. Jorge Sardinas, 53, apparently tried to fight the blaze with a garden hose before he was overcome by heat and flames, said Fort Lauderdale Police Sgt. Alfred Lewers Jr.

Neighbors called to report the fire in the 3200 block of Southwest 20th Court at 10:30 p.m., and when firefighters arrived they found heavy smoke and flames coming from the house. They had trouble getting into the house because hurricane shutters still covered most of the windows. “It really hindered our efforts to get into the house,” said Battalion Chief Phillip Pennington. “If there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s take your shutters down after a storm in case of a fire.”

Sardinas was an art professor at St. Thomas University in Miami and a priest at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church in Miami Lakes, Lewers said. He was found unconscious on the floor near a bedroom, and paramedics administered CPR before taking him to Broward General Medical Center. His dog was found dead inside the house.

Pennington said Sardinas took down only a few shutters after recent storms to allow light into the house. Lewers said Fort Lauderdale fire arson investigators and police homicide detectives were investigating the blaze, but they had no reason to suspect foul play.

Mike Jachles of WTVJ-Ch. 6 contributed to this report. Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun Sentinel