Fire Commissioner Orders 'Serious Safety Watch' on the CPUC Building in San Francisco

According to the recent article on NBCBayArea.com, their investigative unit has learned that state Fire Commissioner has imposed an amazing fire safety order on the headquarters of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) since the SF building failed an inspection in October.

On October 2, inspectors of the state fire found that the fire alarm system was inoperable at the Van Ness Avenue office of the commission, which serves as the meeting spot for the commission that comprises of five members and oversees utility safety as well as rates.

The inspectors of the Fire Commissioner discovered that the sprinkler system had several mechanical problems and hadn't been thoroughly serviced in almost two decades. They also discovered that an emergency exit door, damaged during a robbery attempt, had been closed using chains.

Authorities ordered a strict fire safety watch, which demands the building's halls be patrolled all day and all night until the problems are taken care of. The fact that problems like these could be seen in the building housing a regulator of the key state safety wasn't missed by critics such as the state senator of de San Mateo, Jerry Hill.

The senator said that there was an irony in that. Hill often has criticized the commission for being slack on safety enforcement. In spite of the seriousness of the situation, officials of the California Public Utilities Commission only mentioned the problems during the public meeting of the commission that took place on November 9.

Michael Picker, the president of the commission, announced that they would prioritize safety and outline a few safety concerns in that venue, but he never outlined those concerns. Instead, Picker educated the public on the best way to exit the building and assigned the agency's executive director as the one responsible for calling 911. Fire officials said the safety concerns that the president failed to address are important.

Steve Guarino, who is the northern division chief of fire as well as life safety for the Fire Commissioner's office, said that those are serious violations as far as he was concerned. He continued saying that the inspections conducted on October 2 and October 31 revealed some troubling problems. The alarm system had failed a spot test because of a damaged control panel; it's now repaired and awaiting certification.

Hill stated that the troubling inspection findings are pointing to a major safety failure that happened under the noses of the CPUC's safety regulators.


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