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Audit Finds Houston's Life Safety Bureau Lacking
Rebecca Elliott reports: "The branch of the Houston Fire Department responsible for ensuring building safety keeps inadequate records, does not examine buildings on a regular schedule and inflated its inspection numbers, all while blowing past its overtime budget, according to an audit released by the city controller's office Thursday."
The city controller's audit is only the most recent in "a series of blistering critiques of the Life Safety Bureau," adds Elliott. Fire Chief Samuel Peña has promised reforms in response to the audit, including "working with a consultant to develop a risk-based inspection program and establish a regular inspection cycle by this summer; improving the bureau's database; requiring inspectors to log daily activities; and conducting a staffing analysis."
Although fire safety and building codes are in the International news this week after a tragic fire in a London residential high-rise, Houston has its own concerning history. Last year, "a Spring Branch warehouse storing more than 40,000 pounds of hazardous chemicals burned down, eight years after the fire department last inspected it."