Highlights from the

Herald Democrat

10 Years Ago

Some Quincy building occupants ordered to vacate;

Fire alarm system said

to be not working

by Ann E. Wibbenmeyer

Herald Staff Writer

June 16, 2011

*******

Occupants of the second and third floors of the Quincy building were given one day to move out after a notice, signed by Fire Chief Bob Harvey, was posted on the building June 9.

The order did not affect the two restaurants or acupuncture clinic on the first floor.

Building owner Eddie Halcomb received a notice on June 7 to begin a fire watch over the building at 4 p.m. on June 8. This letter was signed by Harvey, Building Inspector Tom Taylor, Commission Chair Carl Schaefer and Mayor Bud Elliott.

The notice indicated that the fire watch was needed because of an incident on June 3 that indicated the fire alarm system was not working in the building.

At about 3 p.m. that day, the fire department had responded to a smoke alarm in the building called into dispatch by the alarm company.

Upon arrival at the indicated apartment within the building, the resident, who was in the living room, expressed surprise at the presence of the fire department, according to the fire report.

The resident had burned rice, but had not heard any alarm in his apartment, he told the fire crew.

It was the absence of this audible alarm that necessitated the fire watch, according to Harvey.

Halcomb stated that the resident had been asleep, and the absence of the audible alarm could not be proven.

He stated that Meridian Fire and Security did an inspection of the system less than a year ago, indicating an operational system.

He also provided a letter from Shamrock Security Services that the fire alarm system was installed, tested and placed into service June 2, 2010, and was fully functional and operational at that time.

The alarm in the unit was operational, he said, indicating the June 3 incident. There is no larger audible alarm outside the unit; this was never required.

He said that closing the upstairs of the building was an attempt to bully him into doing more than he needs to.

“I will close completely and sell the windows and the doors and the plumbing before I do any of this,” he said of the work indicated in the letter.

The requirements never end, he said. There is always something more to be done.

The work being asked for by the building and fire departments should not be required unless he applies for a permit, said Halcomb.

The issues, however, said Taylor, have to do with life safety systems.

These have to comply with National Fire Protection Association standards and should be checked annually, said Harvey.

The Quincy building had major failures in its system, he added.

This was confirmed with two independent inspections of the building done by the Colorado Department of Public Safety (CDPS) and SAFEbuilt Inc. Halcomb personally requested the first, and the second was contracted by the Lake County Building and Land Use Department.

An example of included violations, according to the CDPS inspection report submitted on Feb. 8, is the rear exit from one of the downstairs restaurants has too narrow an opening, cannot be opened more than 45 degrees, and has major obstructions in the pathway, specified as the hood vent.

The fire escape from the second and third floors also need modification to “provide a safe means of egress,” the report said.

This assessment was repeated in the SAFEbuilt report dated Feb. 10.

According to the June 7 notice given to Halcomb, these exits needed to be brought into compliance by July 17.

Both third-party inspections also suggested a structural analysis of the building to be done by a registered professional engineer.

CDPS also noted the need for a sprinkler system throughout the entire building. There are sprinklers on the second and third floors, but not on the first floor or in the basement.

Disputes over the Quincy building compliance with life safety codes date back to 1996, according to CDPS.

“In my experience, most building owners in any jurisdiction would not have been given so much time or been allowed to operate in such a condition as you have been allotted,” said Steve Gasowski, Fire Suppression Manger/Inspector with CDPS.

In 2008, Halcomb applied for a building permit and appealed to the board of review when the permit was denied for inadequacies in the fire suppression system.

The board of review denied the appeal, but upheld the certificates of occupancy that were in place.

These were the spaces that were rented on June 9, he said.

SAFEbuilt suggested in its report that these certificates of occupancy “may have been issued in error . . . and may be suspended or revoked.”

The building department has upheld the 2008 board of review decision and has not revoked these certificates of occupancy.

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