Though most of the city’s 100 auto body and repair shops — hot spots for fire hazards — did not meet state health and safety requirements after an inspection this spring, all but one of the establishments has brought their shop up to code since then, according to a Fire Department inspection report.
The auto-body and auto-repair facilities in the city, concentrated in and around Montgomery and San Mateo avenues, have concerned fire officials since major fires in 2003 and 2004 gutted two repair facilities. Total losses in the major fires exceeded $1.6 million.
“These businesses can be higher risk for fire,” fire Chief Dan Voreyer said. “They store batteries, tires, they use torches, spray paint — they can be quite dangerous if not up to code.”
Voreyer said the first annual inspection of auto-body and auto-repair shops, which was presented to the City Council on Tuesday, found that only three of the 100 inspected facilities passed the initial inspection. The remaining businesses were given 30 days to complete the repairs and obtain the necessary permits — which include permits for operating some of the heavy machinery used by the businesses.
By the time the final inspection rolled around, 99 of the shops were up to code. The Fire Department declined to name the lone remaining shop that did not pass.
The Fire Department added auto-body and auto-repair shops to its list of annual inspections for health and safety compliance that already included restaurants and bars. Restaurant and bar inspections started in 2006, Voreyer said.
Inspectors searched for things including exit requirements, on-hand fire protection equipment, safe use of outlets and the proper special-use permits for machinery, such as spray booths used in touch-up work.
Most businesses were cooperative with the inspections, Voreyer said.
Michalangeo Marcantonio, owner of Unique Custom Auto Body and Detailing on Montgomery Avenue, said the only upgrade he had to make was to his sprinkler system. The 22-year owner of the business, which relocated to the Montgomery Avenue location approximately one year ago, said the inspections were welcomed, particularly in light of the fires that wiped out similar businesses in the area.
“I didn’t have to do much,” Marcantonio said. “It’s better to take care of this stuff now instead of waiting until it’s too late.”