Fire Safety Threatened by Inspection Issues

  July 12, 2018

By Dan Hounsell

Fire is a real and constant threat to institutional and commercial facilities. The threat can come from an electrical malfunction inside a building or from a rapidly spreading wildfire that moves into cities or towns. Whatever the cause, managers must pay attention to a host of issues related to fire safety in their facilities in order to protect occupants, operations and structures.

Now cities in California face an additional fire-related threat. Overwhelmed and often disorganized, fire departments across California’s Bay Area routinely fail to perform state-required safety inspections of buildings where hundreds of thousands of Californians live and go to school. Despite the potential for tragedy, there are no consequences — and nobody paying attention — to make sure fire inspectors are getting the job done.

An investigation by the Bay Area News Group found many of the region’s major fire departments are months, and often years, late on performing annual inspections at schools and apartment buildings. In many cases, their record-keeping is so flawed that scores of residential buildings go unchecked altogether because fire marshals do not know they exist.

An analysis of inspection records over eight years from 11 of the area’s largest fire agencies found that nearly one-quarter of the 17,000 apartment buildings in the review weren't inspected in 2017 and that more than 400 had not been inspected since 2013.

The findings come as the state is plagued by a rash of wildfires that threaten both rural and urban areas and further drain municipal resources aimed at protecting residents and structures.

This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell — dan.hounsell@tradepressmedia.com — editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, and chief editor of Facilitiesnet.com.


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