RI Officials May Ask for Deeper Probe of Historic Inn Blaze

Sept. 28, 2023
The inspector who passed the faulty suppression system at Harborside Inn on Block Island has lost his license.

Rhode Island fire marshals determined the blaze last month at the Harborside Inn on Block Island determined a buildup of cooking grease in the kitchen's hood was the likely cause.

Now, New Shoreham town officials are considering asking the state Attorney General's office to conduct a more in-depth probe, WPRI reported.

Firefighters had to be shipped to the island by boat to battle the multi-alarm fire.

Investigators also determined that the kitchen’s fire suppression system failed to activate, even though it had been tagged “compliant” repeatedly over the years. Emergency Services of New England LLC owner Peter Freund's license was revoked after the probe.

Freund, who had been in charge of inspecting the fire suppression system, reportedly admitted to investigators that it contained two components that weren’t supposed to be used together. The manufacture warned that the incompatible parts could cause the entire system to fail, reporters noted quoting the document. “Freund stated that he had verbally advised the building owner that the two components were not listed for use together but that, when the building owner did not want to pay for a new control head, Freund tagged the system as compliant regardless..."

The state fire marshal’s office also said it does not have a record on file for inspections of the Harborside Inn. 

While the restaurant manager claimed the kitchen hood was cleaned at the start and close of each season, officials said the last recorded cleaning was in May 2022, which violates the state’s fire code.