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LAFD behind on major safety inspections

LAFDThe Los Angeles Fire Department has fallen months and even years behind on safety inspections at thousands of large apartment buildings, schools, hotels, churches and other structures that it considers the greatest risks for loss of life in major fires, according to a Los Angeles Times investigation.

The department is lagging on inspections for about 6,800 of the buildings — a third of the structures the LAFD classifies as a priority mainly because they’re occupied by large numbers of people, according to documents obtained by The Times under the California Public Records Act.

Nearly half of those buildings were more than a year overdue for an inspector’s visit as of last week, and one in five was overdue by two years or more, the Times reported. In addition, thousands of smaller apartment buildings have never been inspected, in violation of a state law requiring annual checks of housing structures with three or more units, according to LAFD records and interviews conducted by the newspaper.

The list of high-occupancy buildings overdue for inspection includes some at the massive Park La Brea apartment complex in Mid-Wilshire, Birmingham High School in Van Nuys and the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A., The Times reported.

For Park La Brea, home to more than 10,000 people, four of 18 residential towers are overdue for inspections, according to The Times. At one of the buildings, the LAFD had no records showing up-to-date fire-safety tests and certifications for elevators, emergency power generators and water systems.

Park La Brea’s residential services director did not respond to requests for comment. Over the years, several fires have broken out at the complex, although no injuries were reported, according to the LAFD and news accounts.

The list of buildings overdue for inspections includes virtually every type of structure: movie theaters, yoga parlors, pet clinics, McDonald’s restaurants, hair salons, The Times reported. Single-family homes are an exception; they are not required to undergo regular inspections.

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