Governor Brown Signs Legislation to Tighten Accountability for Fire Safety Inspections
Governor Brown Signs Legislation by Senator Jerry Hill to Tighten Accountability for Fire Safety Inspections
SACRAMENTO – Fire departments will be required to report annually to their local governing authority on compliance with the state mandate for yearly safety inspections at schools, apartments, hotels, motels and lodging houses under legislation by Senator Jerry Hill that Governor Brown signed today.
“Senate Bill 1205 can help save lives by ensuring that the governing body is informed about the fire department’s compliance,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.
“If the required inspections are performed, the city or county overseeing a fire department will know,” Senator Hill said. “And if the requirement is not met, governing bodies can take the opportunity to learn why and work with departments to close the gap. This increases the likelihood that fire departments are given the resources they need to reach 100 percent annual inspection compliance.”
SB 1205, which takes effect January 1, gives cities and counties the choice of making the report due during annual budget talks or selecting another time during the year for the report to be submitted.
The legislation responds to a Bay Area News Group investigative report that examined fire departments’ adherence to the state mandate for annual safety inspections after the Ghost Ship Fire in Oakland that killed 36 people in December 2016 and a March 2017 fire that ripped through a halfway house in the same city, claiming four lives and sending at least 100 residents scrambling for safety.
Both structures were found to have rampant building and safety violations that witnesses claimed existed for years unchecked. The Bay Area News Group’s reporting project revealed several Bay Area fire departments are years behind in their safety investigations of schools and apartments.
“The law mandating those inspections is already in place, but there was no mechanism to monitor compliance,” said Senator Hill said. “SB 1205 creates that check and balance.”
Both houses of the Legislation passed SB 1205 with unanimous support. The California Fire Chiefs Association, the California School Boards Association, the Fire Districts Association of California and the cities of Oakland and Sunnyvale also expressed support for the bill.