Fire department finishes freeway underpass survey

Fire department finishes freeway underpass survey

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — In an effort to diminish the risk of a similar fire that occurred at a storage yard beneath the Santa Monica (10) Freeway, forcing a weeklong closure of the heavily traveled downtown roadway, the Los Angeles Fire Department has conducted a survey of 50 freeway underpass properties and identified 23 in need of further attention.

“I want to thank Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Kristin Crowley for coordinating this important effort and working with our state partners to ensure we are taking a whole of government approach to reducing the future risk of a similar incident,” Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement.

“As I said two weekends ago, the reason the 10 Freeway was safe and drivable for commuters this month, as opposed to next month, was the brave actions of our firefighters the night of the fire. Now, we must continue our work to keep Angelenos safe,” Bass added.

Following the weeklong closure of the 10 Freeway due to the damage it sustained as a result of a fire at the storage facility near 14th Street on Nov. 11, Crowley deployed fire inspectors to determine if any additional sites have Health and Safety Code violations related to hazardous materials.

Fire department inspectors collected and organized the data to ensure it can be quickly shared and utilized by the State Fire Marshal, who has fire inspection jurisdiction for state-owned land.

Though the fire department responds to 911 emergencies across the city, code enforcement on state owned land is limited, by statute, to violations of the Health and Safety Code relating to hazardous materials.

“Within hours of the fire, LAFD was in detailed communication with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, which assigned Cal Fire arson investigators, as the land is within the state’s jurisdiction,” Crowley said in a statement. “To further our coordination with the State Fire Marshal’s staff, I formally assigned LAFD fire inspectors to conduct a systematic windshield survey to identify any similar property under freeway overpasses that warranted the state’s attention.”

According to Crowley, while the state has fire inspection responsibilities for state-owned land, LAFD is committed to working collaboratively with the State Fire Marshal to ensure public safety in Los Angeles.

“The LAFD Fire Marshal’s Office continues to be in contact and collaboration with the State Fire Marshal on this matter,” Crowley said in a statement.

Fire department staff will refer fire code violations to Cal Fire, assess sites for Health and Safety Code violations for onsite hazardous materials storage that exceed the state reporting threshold of 55 gallons of liquid, 200 cubic feet of gas and 500 pounds of a solid, or improper storage or use of hazardous materials.

LAFD officials also said the department will issue violation notices and process them immediately or within a 30-day follow up. Fire inspectors will also assess sites to determine if they generate hazardous waste, referring them to the county fire department for any necessary follow-up.

Most of the 23 sites were located along the Santa Monica Freeway near downtown.