Risk Management, OSHA offices have faulty sprinklers

Like nearly every other building the state leases, the building at 400 W. King St. has exit signs and other emergency markings and, of course, sprinkler heads poking through the ceilings - just in case of fire.

Very few, however, knew that those sprinkler heads are little more than decorations - unable to provide a drop of water - because they were never hooked up to city water mains.

Ironically, the state's Risk Management Division and Occupational Safety and Health Administration - responsible for those kinds of safety issues - have their offices in the King Street building.

OSHA officials could not be reached Monday, but Risk Manager Susan Dunt described the situation as "very embarrassing."

She hastened to point out that her office, the state fire marshal and the building's owner are getting the sprinklers fixed.

"I believe the original problem was that the lease required a sprinkler system but the wording didn't say it had to be hooked up," she said. "It's been kind of a very silly thing."

"The landlord committed to get it done and we have figured out a financial penalty if he does not," said Dunt.

Simply put, she said, they threatened to put his rent money in an escrow fund until there is enough there to finish the system and hook it to city water lines if he didn't finish the sprinkler system.

Dunt, who became risk manager earlier this year, said the building's owner, Thomas Patrick, of California, "started responding pretty good " after that.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Vicki Stevens said the sprinkler system should have been finished by July 1999.

"When the state originally moved in, the building wasn't required to have sprinklers but, over the years, the state has started requiring sprinklers," she said.

The state has been negotiating with Patrick to connect the sprinklers since the beginning of the year, but the process was delayed because he was seriously ill part of that time.

"We try to work with people," she said. "We're not just going to slam them.

"But finally we had to put a foot down."

Patrick could not be reached at his Granada Hills number.

Dunt said the water is hooked up and the system will be finished in a week or two when the alarm system is connected and the water turned on.


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