A string of major apartment fires has prompted elected city officials to call for tougher fire-safety laws, including stricter city regulation of residential buildings' fire alarms.
One man is dead and at least 100 residents have been displaced following three major fires in San Francisco apartment buildings over the past 10 days in the Mission, Tenderloin and Western Addition, city officials say.
In the worst of the incidents, a four-alarm blaze at an aging multi-use building at 22nd and Mission Streets on Jan. 28, residents reported hearing no fire alarms go off.
The building had no outstanding safety violations at the time of the fire. However, the building's fire alarm control panel's annual inspection certification was due to expire five hours after the fire broke out.
And in 2010, residents had complained of inoperable fire alarms to city building inspectors.
Building owners with expired fire alarm certifications would be subject to citations and fines under laws proposed by Supervisor David Campos, who represents the area.
Campos is also pushing Fire Department officials to investigate whether building owner Hawk Lou followed all fire-safety laws. Inspections of fire alarm control panels is not done by the Fire Department but by private companies with state and city licenses. Campos also wants building owners to file biannual affidavits with The City affirming that a property's fire-safety requirements are up to date.
While most residential buildings in San Francisco are not required to have sprinklers, Supervisor Jane Kim has proposed expanding laws mandating that sprinklers like those operating in single-room-occupancy hotel rooms be used in other apartment buildings.
Kim is also pushing for a “rapid repair program” that would allow tenants displaced by a fire to return to their former homes sooner.
This would dampen “current market incentives to use natural disasters to displace entire families for more profit,” Kim said in a release Thursday.