The 1995-96 Santa Barbara County Grand Jury today reported results of its investigation into the Santa Barbara City Fire Department (SBFD). The Grand Jury investigation was prompted by a citizen complaint and media coverage of a fire at the California Hotel.
The investigation indicated that fire department inspections and reinspections were not conducted or documented in a uniform method. Cases referred to the Fire Prevention Department, also reflect poor documentation. Documentation in many instances was completely lacking. The Grand Jury was told that there is no computerized records management system.
Discussions with the SBFD management, the Santa Barbara City Data Processing Manager and the Finance Director indicate that the effort to replace the existing Macintosh computers with a state-of-the-art PC based network has begun. However, the SBFD has not followed up with a requisition to Data Processing to purchase the equipment and software.
The Grand Jury urged the SBFD, in conjunction with City Data Processing and Finance, to proceed as rapidly as possible with the acquisition of computer hardware and a software system to work throughout the entire SBFD.
The Grand Jury observed one fire that had resulted from an existing violation that was not detected during a previous fire inspection. It was recommended that when the cause of a fire can be traced to an existing but not detected violation, additional training should be required of the responsible engine company.
The Grand Jury also recommended developing a checklist for routine inspections and tightening up quality assurance for all inspections.
The Grand Jury reviewed the Santa Barbara City Fire Departmentís Fire Prevention Operating Manual, case files and the City Fire Codes. The Grand Jury also conducted unannounced inspections of several fire stations, interviewed the shift staff, attended a Fire Inspection Training session and observed one fire incident.
The full report is posted on the Grand Juryís World Wide Web page. Copies of the report are also available at the Superior Court Jury Services office at 1100 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, or call 568-3139.