Chula Vista Fire Department, state senator question Sweetwater school fire alarms

Questions come following Team 10 stories

SAN DIEGO - After first denying any problems with its alarm systems, the Sweetwater Union High School District is forced to fix and upgrade fire alarms that do not work by fire departments that cover the district, while a California state senator calls the broken alarms "shocking."

Team 10 first exposed the issue in July, and brought the information on 326 broken alarms to the Chula Vista and National City fire departments, which have since implemented action plans with the district for alarm repairs.

Now the Chula Vista Fire Department has also ordered immediate repairs to begin in the schools covered by that department.

Chula Vista Deputy Fire Chief Justin Gipson thanked Team 10 for providing the information that led to his department launching its own independent investigation.

The findings of the department’s investigation matched Team 10's. The problem of broken alarms was so serious at seven schools that the fire department required the district to have employees walk the grounds to monitor all areas until the alarms are fixed.

See the investigation guidelines and requirements for walking the grounds: http://bit.ly/17iQuJM

Team 10 asked Gipson why the district didn't tell his agency about the broken alarms in the first place.

"In terms of why they didn't bring them forward to us when the found out about it, I can't speak to that," Gipson said. "What's important is when we found out, we engaged the school district immediately."

Gipson's department made a plan to deal with deficiencies and says the district is cooperating.

See the latest City of Chula Vista Schools fire alarm deficiency repair status: http://bit.ly/1gD2JcF

For example, at Chula Vista Middle School, 39 alarms didn't work. At Bonita Vista High School, 97 alarms needed to be fixed, and 30 alarms have been repaired.

As of last week, 39 percent of the repairs ordered by the Chula Vista department had been made, and the Sweetwater district has to update the department every week on its progress.

Voters passed Proposition O to cover fire alarms in the district. The bond oversight committee is looking at why money had not been spent on repairs before now.

The committee took Team 10 on a recent tour of Montgomery High School, where some alarms have been repaired. Bond committee members questioned how they could not have known about the broken alarms.

(See video of the tour and the alarms, and hear what bond committee members said, today on 10News At 5:00.)

The National City Fire Department also is having the district make repairs, as Team 10 previously reported: http://bit.ly/17lh7fM
 

Schools
Deficiency Issues
No. of Devices Covered
Issues Fixed
No. of Devices Covered
Bonita Vista High
22
97
7
30
Bonita Vista Middle
10
14
9
13
Castle Park High
21
92
8
27
Castle Park Middle
17
94
1
1
Chula Vista Adult
RETEST NEEDED
Chula Vista High
19
194
5
25
Chula Vista Middle
10
39
UPGRADE
39
Eastlake High
18
24
3
3
Eastlake Middle
6
37
7
17
Hilltop High
29
46
UPGRADE
46
Hilltop Middle
17
29
0
0
Olympian High
2
29
0
0
Otay Ranch High
22
80
2
30
Palomar High
5
5
0
0
Rancho Del Rey Middle
52
60
47
55
TOTALS (34%)
250
840
166
286

State Senator Ben Hueso has watched Team 10's stories.

"When you think about the amount of alarms that were not functional, it was greatly concerning. It's shocking, frankly," Sen. Hueso said.

He said he believes Team 10 stories revealed a weakness in the reporting system for alarm systems in schools.

"I think this incident merits the state looking further into the way we administer safety systems statewide," he said.

Hueso said the first thing office will do is hold a stakeholders meeting in the community and invite all concerned parties to be heard.

He told Team 10 if administrative changes needed to be made, he will push for that. However, if more extensive changes must be made, he will push for a legislative solution, he said.

Team 10 and Hueso talked about what it would take to require the district to post on a public website all alarm system inspection reports where everyone can see them.

Team 10 needed to file a California Public Records Act request to be able to see the repair documents, which revealed all of the alarms and systems that repairs or complete upgrades.

Read this spreadsheet Team 10 created to review what we found. The map below has links to actual inspection documents for each school in the district.

CODES: ANSUL– Ansul; HD – Heat Detector; ADM – Relay Module; DD- Duct Detector; CM – Control Module; SD – Smoke Detector; WF – Waterflow; FACP – Fire Alarm Control Panel; MM – Monitor Module; SS – Supervisor Switch; SNAC – Power Supply; PS – Pull Station; TS – Tamper Switch

 

 

 

 

 


View Sweetwater Union High School District Fire Alarm Report in a larger map

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