Firefighter’s Death: Expert to Testify in Hearing For Architect

By Andrew Khouri, L.A. NOW
November 27, 2012

A safety expert is expected to testify Tuesday in a hearing for an architect accused of negligently installing outdoor fireplaces in his Hollywood Hills mansion, a decision prosecutors say ultimately led to a veteran firefighter’s death. In February, prosecutors charged Gerhard Becker, 48, with one count of involuntary manslaughter, alleging he knowingly ignored safety recommendations and altered the house after inspections. Authorities said Becker seemed to worry more about ensuring the luxury home sparkled for an upcoming filming of “Germany’s Next Top Model” than guaranteeing the mansion—with sweeping views and an infinity pool–was safe to occupy. More …

Federal Commission Says ‘no’ to Building Code Changes For Wildfire-prone Areas

By John Cotter, The Canadian Press
December 2, 2012

A federal commission has rejected proposals to change Canada’s national construction codes to better protect communities from destructive wildfires. The changes would have required builders in areas prone to forest fires to use less flammable building materials, to space buildings farther apart and to keep them clear of trees and vegetation. “There was no consensus to go forward and put this in the codes. The majority of the provinces said, ‘No, you can’t put this in the building codes because we couldn’t enforce it,'” Philip Rizcallah, acting manager of the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes, said from Ottawa. More …