OAKLAND (KRON) — Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Administrator Sabrina Landreth have ordered a fire safety inspection overhaul that will double the size of the Fire Prevention Bureau, according to a city spokeswoman.
“The San Pablo Avenue Fire is another tragedy that reveals the urgent need to overhaul our inspection process,” Schaaf said. “Today we are doubling the number of staff members in the Fire Prevention Bureau and taking steps to enhance their training and tools. We must expose the reckless property owners who are putting profits above safety. The two tragic fires over the last months highlight the critical importance of leadership, training, technology and staffing at our Fire Department; today’s actions address those needs.”
Landreth said although the cause of the San Pablo Avenue fire that claimed four lives was an accident, she says change is still necessary.
“While the cause of the deadly fire at 2551 San Pablo Avenue has been ruled accidental, it is clear that over-demand and inadequate staffing require an immediate remedy,” Landreth said. “I have directed the Fire Department to focus all inspection staff — engine companies and fire prevention staff alike — to catch up on the backlog of inspections, with urgent priority on known problem properties, in close coordination with building inspectors.”
Schaaf says the city has been working to make changes.
“Our initial investigation of the San Pablo Avenue fire further underscores the urgent need for reforms,” Schaaf said.
Here are the steps the city says it’s taking:
ENHANCED BLUE TAG POLICY & TRAINING
- Enhancing our Blue Tag Field Inspection Policy and mandating immediate training on it to all Fire Department staff to ensure they are clear about the actions required of fire staff when encountering unsafe building conditions.
- Fast-tracking requisitions to hire six additional inspectors as quickly as possible, doubling the size of inspection staff in the Fire Prevention Bureau, upon approval of the City Council.
- Accelerating the recruitment process for a new permanent Fire Chief without compromising the community input process.
- Calling for additional staff, eventually tripling inspections staff, modifying fees and the collections procedures in the upcoming proposed Fiscal Year 2017-19 City Budget.
ACCELERATED PROBLEM PROPERTIES INSPECTIONS
- Immediately reallocating existing fire house company staff to support inspections until new inspection staff are in place.
- Prioritizing problem properties identified by Station Houses to ensure all buildings are current on annual inspections.
- Bringing stronger and more proactive Residential and Commercial Inspection Programs to City Council for approval.
- Adopting Accela, the building department’s online tool, for Fire Department record keeping to ensure greater transparency and ability to access fire and planning and building records on properties using the same system and public interface.