Inspectors check fire protection equipment like sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers and fire alarms to make sure they are working properly. If a building has emergency lighting, they ensure that it works. They check the number of exits, how accessible they are and if they are clearly identified.
Huntington Square, a high-rise office building in downtown Charleston, lacks a sprinkler system.
"In the last 30 days, we completed a building evacuation test that was observed by the police and fire departments and was successful. We are compliant with all building codes," Maureen Brown, a spokeswoman for Huntington Bank, which owns the building, said in an email.
Construction on Huntington Square was completed in 1970.
Charleston's other high rises are mostly governed by older building codes.
Out of Charleston's six high-rise office spaces, only the United Center and Laidley Tower finished initial building construction during the 1980s.The BB&T Tower and City Center East completed construction in 1976. Chase Tower was constructed in 1960.
"We do have concerned citizens that call us being occupants in the commercial buildings," Tyree said. "It's a never ending battle to ensure the safety of all the city of Charleston."
"We know the state of West Virginia is one of the highest in the country when it comes to fire death," Tyree said. "There's a hole, and we're all mindful of that."
Any new building or structure higher than 40 feet, must have an automatic fire extinguishing system throughout the entire building, installed in accordance with national fire codes.
Tyree said education is one of the department's best tools for safety when the law does not allow them to mandate changes in older office buildings.
Along, with education, Tyree said more strategic planning and technology would help ensure safety.
"As those things continue to mold themselves and come together, to really have the continuity, I think we can have success in ensuring that people are staying compliant in their buildings and also the public is being kept safe as well as emergency responders," Tyree said.Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.