After fires, Maine lawyer highlights safety concerns

The Journal Tribune, a daily newspaper serving readers in York County, Maine, published a guest commentary this week by attorney Michael Bigos of Berman & Simmons.

Bigos represented the families of Michael Moore and James Ford, two young men who were killed by an apartment fire in Biddeford in September 2014. The claims against the building owner were recently settled for a confidential amount.

In his guest commentary, Bigos urges municipalities and landlords to work together to improve building safety for all renters in Maine.

Click here to read the full guest commentary on the Journal Tribune website. Here is an excerpt:

Out of fire tragedy, an opportunity for change

Guest Commentary

By Michael Bigos

Special to the Journal Tribune

For the family and friends of Michael Moore and James Ford, the voids will never be filled, the wounds will never be healed.

The deaths of the two young men from Biddeford, caused by a fire that ripped through a downtown building in September 2014, had a profound impact on those who loved Michael and James, as well as the firefighters and medical personnel who tried to save them.

As the attorney for the two families, I witnessed the depth of their grief. What makes it even harder for them is the fact that the deaths were 100 percent preventable. There were more than 20 safety violations at the 35 Main St. building where Michael and James lived in a third-floor apartment. If the building had been up to code, and the men could have accessed a safe way out, they almost certainly would have lived. That was the conclusion reached by multiple experts who reviewed the case, including investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

We can’t go back and make it right for the two friends who died in 2014. But out of tragedy, we can seize upon the opportunity for change.