Team 10 fire alarm investigations lead to possible statewide changes

Senator working on legislation

SAN DIEGO - Team 10 is getting results and it could lead to statewide changes to fire alarms in schools.

Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego, 40th District) said Team 10's investigations brought this problem to light and he's considering legislation to make sure fire alarm upgrades are done and alarms are fixed around California.

"In light of reporting from Channel 10, of course, we promised to work on this issue," said Hueso.

After Team 10's investigations, Hueso brought state and local fire officials and Sweetwater Union High School District officials together at a meeting held at Chula Vista High School.

A whistleblower told Tema 10 that hundreds of alarm upgrades had been put off for years, while other things like athletic fields were paid for in schools throughout the district.

Millions of dollars for safety repairs were available for the upgrades through Proposition O money.

Team 10 also found inspection reports that showed hundreds of alarms that weren't fully functioning.

On Thanksgiving last year, a fire broke out at Chula Vista High School and the alarms did not go off.

Tom Calhoun, chief facilities executive at Sweetwater Union High School District, has always said the kids were safe in the district and components of alarms didn't work, not the alarms themselves.

Team 10 asked Calhoun about the fire watch monitors -- people who had to walk the halls until the alarms were fixed -- that were mandated to be put in the schools after the story.

"Why didn't you pick up the phone and say we had problems with the alarms," asked Team 10 producer JW August.

"I did call the fire department," said Calhoun.

When pressed for details Calhoun changed his story.

"I don't know if I had that conversation with the state fire marshal but I had it with staff," said Calhoun.

Hueso's office is working on legislation and Team 10 will be following the progress.

For more information, visit Team 10's section Sweetwater Fire Alarms

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