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Westlake Fire and Inspections

May 12, 1993

In response "Westlake Fire: Did It Have to Be So Bad?" editorial, May 6:

The Los Angeles Fire Department is superb at fighting fires. It fails at inspections and follow-through. Inspections are incidental jobs. The L.A. Department of Building and Safety is organized to do inspections and assure timely corrective action. From my vantage point the obvious solution is transfer inspections to those who do it best. Building and Safety has the inspectors available and gets my nod.

Smoke detectors, as required by the city, have significant false alarm rates. After a few false alarms they get disconnected. The city must prod manufacturers to develop detectors that meet the needs of crowded apartments in our city.

On a final note, the sociological problems of extremely crowded apartments (amid a plethora of vacancies) is one where the city continues to bury its head. High occupancy leads to building deterioration, slum conditions and the problems you note in the Burlington Street fire.

We need to get our heads out of the sand and make our inner city a safe and desirable place to live, rather than the wasteland it is becoming. The current haphazard approach to enforcement of the various fire, health, occupancy, safety and building code ordinances must be replaced by a coordinated program to improve living conditions throughout the city.

C.W. CARSON

Malibu

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