According to an investigation by the Springfield News-Leader, the fire alarms in apartments in Wheaton, Mo., for low-income residents where four adults and a child died in a Thanksgiving Day fire were disabled a decade ago by the company that manages the apartments. The company, Bell Management, Inc., of Joplin manages about 3,700 apartments in three states. The company president said Bell Management has disabled fire alarms at other apartments it manages but wouldn't say how many of the apartments lack working fire alarms or where they are. The apartments in Wheaton, Mo, did have working smoke detectors. Missouri does not have a statewide fire code that regulates when fire alarms when are required. The Wheaton apartments were partially financed by USDA Rural Development and regularly inspected by the agency.
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