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Burglar bars put safety at risk in emergencies

Updated: Tuesday, August 19 2014, 10:28 PM CDT
Burglar bars put safety at risk in emergencies story image
SAN ANTONIO - Every second counts during an emergency, and a safety measure meant to protect your home, could end up putting your safety at risk.

"To me, it's more important to be able to get out of your home safely if there's a fire than it is to keep burglars from coming in and stealing your stuff, because stuff can be replaced," said San Antonio Fire Department Capt. Steve Boldway.

Firefighters believe padlocks and burglar bars prevented a 57-year-old man from getting out of his southeast side home Tuesday morning, and it made it difficult for rescuers to get in to save him.  His body was found five feet from his door on Firestar Trail, and keys and a Bible were located nearby.  SAFD has the tools to rip burglar bars off your home, but that can take up precious time.

"It only takes one breath of thick black smoke to render you unconscious. A couple more breaths and you're deceased. That extra minute or two minutes or three minutes to get the burglar bars off may be all you have to survive," Boldway said.

According to the city's property maintenance code, burglar bars must be up to the code that was in effect when the building was built.  However, the city doesn't track which homes have them and the city told News 4 no one inspects them unless someone calls code compliance.  Boldway recommends making sure the locks on your burglar bars are well maintained.

"You should practice opening them. You should have your children and your other family members practice opening them. Always know where the key is," he said. "If you never practice it and all of a sudden you have to open it, that's something you've never done before and you're under duress, it's smoky and it's dark, you're panicked and it makes it all that more hard."

Firefighters usually remove the burglar bars from homes that are on fire so firefighters have an escape route if they get in trouble inside a home or building.  The cause of the deadly fire is still under investigation.Burglar bars put safety at risk in emergencies
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