FIRE SAFETY INSPECTIONS REVIEWED BY THE 2018-2019 SAN MATEO COUNTY CIVIL GRAND JURY

September 27, 2019

We cannot say enough good things about our wonderful Fire Department and all they do to keep us safe. The Grand Jury report is about Fire Safety inspections in all of the fire departments in our COWnty. When it comes to fire, prevention is the best protection. We are proud that Woodside scored better than most of the other Fire Departments and Districts in our COWnty.

A June 2018 investigation by the Bay Area News Group who found the State mandated annual fire safety inspection programs of major fire departments across the Bay Area were not being done. As a follow up, the Grand Jury conducted its own investigation into the matter. The Grand Jury looked into the annual safety inspection programs of all ten fire departments in the COWnty from 2015 through 2018. Only three, Woodside among them, of the ten fire departments had completed 90 percent or more of their required inspections over this period. Additionally, a number of the fire departments’ record keeping systems for tracking compliance of these inspection were antiquated and/or otherwise disorganized and so difficult to know whether the required inspections were all being carried out.

The media attention last year on the substantial noncompliance by various COWnty fire departments seems to have helped moo-ve the Fire Departments toward efforts of improvement.

While our town does not have all of the types of facilities which require inspection, we do have the most important kind, schools. While Woodside did well in regards to inspections, neighboring Redwood City, which houses one of our High Schools, did not. Moreover, we were shocked to learn Woodside is one of the districts that has antiquated tracking.
We do not understand why our COWncil has not provided in its budget for a computerized system to help keep our children safe. They should.

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