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Fire System Retest Set at Olive View : Opening of Hospital Delayed Until Equipment Approved

May 28, 1986|STEPHANIE CHAVEZ | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles County officials ordered Tuesday the retesting of an Olive View Medical Center fire protection system that previous tests showed was not operating properly--a snag that has indefinitely delayed the opening of the $120-million county hospital.

Hospital officials had planned to open the facility this Saturday, but problems arose when tests indicated that the building's sophisticated air-exhaust system, designed to blow smoke out of the building in case of a fire, was not expelling enough air.

This meant that the building could not pass Los Angeles City Fire Department safety inspections required for occupancy, said Douglas Bagley, hospital administrator.

"We are on hold right now," Bagley said. "We are not setting another date until this matter is resolved."

The county's Olive View Mid-Valley Hospital in Van Nuys will continue to operate until the 350-bed Olive View in Sylmar is opened. Mid-Valley has treated patients too poor to go to private hospitals since the original Olive View was destroyed in the Feb. 9, 1971, earthquake, just a month after it had opened.

Once the new Olive View gets clearance to open, it will take three weeks for hospital officials to prepare to move an estimated 85 patients from Mid-Valley and to inform the public that outpatient clinics have been moved, Bagley said.

At a meeting Tuesday, county officials and the building's engineers decided to make several air valve adjustments to the system and then have it retested by the private firm that conducted the first tests.

It will be at least two weeks before the new tests are conducted. Olive View officials said they will not know until then what, if any, problem exists. If new equipment has to be ordered, the opening could be delayed up to three months. If the tests show that the system is operating properly, the hospital could open within a month.

Bill Allen, chief deputy of the county's Facilities Management Department, said the engineering firm that designed the system maintains that nothing is wrong with it and that the system adjustments will clear the building for fire inspections.

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