Portland inspection officials on Friday issued a violation notice to the owner of a Cumberland Avenue apartment building where a man fell to his death from a second-floor porch Wednesday afternoon.

The city ordered that the building’s three exterior porches be off-limits until they can be removed, and identified a handful of other life-safety code violations, according to a letter issued by Deputy Director of Inspections Jonathan Rioux.

Donald Stain, 53, died when he fell 20 feet from the second-floor porch of 563 Cumberland Ave. in Portland to the paved parking lot below. Police believe Stain fell when he leaned against the porch railing and it gave way. The incident has renewed calls for a more aggressive, proactive city inspection program for rental units.

City staff inspected the 11-unit apartment building Thursday and found no major violations apart from the structurally unsound porches, said Deputy Fire Chief Keith Gautreau. The porches are now off-limits and the common-area doors that lead to them have been fastened shut, he said.

“When we left, the maintenance personnel said they were all coming down,” Gautreau said.

The apartment building is owned by Harry Krigman of Cape Elizabeth.

The porches have no exterior stairs and do not function as a secondary means of egress required as part of the life-safety code. The secondary means of egress from the building is a second interior stairwell.

That was the same reason the building passed a Portland Housing Authority inspection to qualify it for Section 8 housing vouchers.

Under the federal requirements, housing units must be inspected annually to be approved for the vouchers. Stain had been receiving a housing voucher for many years, according to an email sent by the Portland Housing Authority’s executive director, Mark Adelson.

The authority performed an inspection in January and found Stain’s apartment was in good condition. The only problem identified was structural problems with the front entryway roof. The inspection covers the apartment that the voucher would be used for and the common areas that would be used to access the apartment as well as fire escapes.

The inspector did not go out onto the porch because it was not a fire escape and because it was covered with snow, Adelson wrote.

“There was no visible damage or failed conditions to the deck as seen from inside,” Adelson’s email said. “This is a tragedy we feel very badly about. However, I’m confident PHA did everything we’re required to do under the program rules.”


The inspection of the unit the prior year made no mention of the porch. It identified a broken smoke detector that was fixed the next day, he said.

Stain had complained about the unsafe porch conditions over the 14 years he lived there but had never notified the city, his brother told the Portland Press Herald on Thursday. Portland police, who seized the railing, have not yet said what caused it to give way.

The city does not perform routine building inspections for items like structural integrity, but instead responds to complaints.

There is no Maine law requiring porches to be inspected after they are built. In some parts of the country, local communities do require occasional inspections.

In New York City, owners of buildings that are more than six stories high must have balconies and facades inspected for structural safety every five years and that information then must be forwarded to the city.

San Francisco requires all porches and exterior stairs to be inspected every five years.


Portland’s housing inspectors now have scheduled inspections at two other apartment buildings in Portland that Krigman owns – at 528 Deering Ave. and 218 Walton St.

In his letter Friday, Rioux cited the city code that requires stairs and porches to be in good repair and safe to use. The letter also requires the owner to remove appliances stored in common hallways that might hamper escape in an emergency, replace three smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that were identified as needing replacement during the inspection, install a missing smoke detector in a first-floor apartment and address a handful of other life-safety requirements.

If the owner does not fix all the outstanding issues, he could face civil penalties.

The incident has renewed calls for a city housing inspections unit that would routinely check all rental units in the city.

The city budget proposed this month includes $600,000 to establish a housing safety office that would be funded by fees assessed on local landlords. The proposal to create a housing office, which would include fire safety inspectors, comes in response to a fire that killed six on Noyes Street in November.

According to records, the last city inspection at the Cumberland Avenue building was a routine fire inspection conducted in 2012, which city officials said typically involves checking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire escapes and boilers. The fire inspectors are not required to check the porches.

The city plans to reinspect the property on May 8.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.