Audit finds 39% of Oahu's residential high rises did not undergo - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Audit finds 39% of Oahu's residential high rises did not undergo fire inspections

Capt. Terry Seelig Capt. Terry Seelig

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A city audit has found that nearly 40% of high-rise residential buildings on Oahu did not undergo fire inspections every two years as required. The auditor says part of the problem was that the Honolulu Fire Department was failing to keep a complete and accurate inspection database.

Kamakani Souza and Jeff Lepage are among the 14 inspectors and three captains handling all of the fire code inspections on Oahu. Fire officials say the scathing report doesn't look at the current picture, which shows significant improvements in their computer database.

The auditor reviewed HFD's inspection program between July 2005 and December 2008. During that period, the report says the department's database could not effectively track whether buildings were in compliance.

According to the auditor, 39% of residential high rises on Oahu were not inspected every two years as required.

"What really comes to mind is, is it unsafe in any of these buildings? No," Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department, said. "The cause of the fires that happen in any of these buildings are because of the behavior of people in using open flame. Candle is often a cause of fire. Inspection is never going to turn that up, but education will address that."

Fire officials say their fire prevention programs have been evolving for years, and that the auditor's report validates their efforts.

Last year, the law was changed so that inspections are now required every five years. Fire officials say certain places, such as hospitals and schools, are still checked every year.

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