Apr 17, 2012
Mary Oso

Fire code violations: DOA seeks help to fix aging building

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The Legislature’s executive director, Vincent Arriola, said, as of yesterday afternoon, he hadn’t received a formal report from GFD. Also, he hasn’t been made aware of the local Guam Department of Labor Division of Occupational Safety and Health visiting or planning to visit the building despite his request.

Artero and Department of Public Health and Social Services Director James Gillan said structural integrity and safety issues related to structure fall under the purview of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

No one at the local Guam Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health was available for comment yesterday. Calls to the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration office in Hawaii were not returned.

Landlord vs. tenant

Gillan said the situation at the Hagåtña building is an issue that should be discussed between landlord and tenant.

“If it’s a workplace problem, then it’s OSHA’s job to do that,” he said. “We don’t normally inspect buildings.”

Gillan said Public Health inspects school buildings as part of its responsibility under the Adequate Education Act. The agency also inspects school cafeterias because they’re considered food establishments.

Last year, Public Health inspectors closed Simon Sanchez High School for part of the summer for repeated violations, ranging from baseboards in disrepair, cracked floor tiles and broken desks to cracks in plastic chairs, empty toilet paper dispensers, empty bathroom soap dispensers and leaking ceilings.

Arriola said he tries to work with DOA and DOE, and despite the Legislature’s tight budget, he’s been able to address issues that are reported to him. He said he hadn’t heard of large issues such as major leaks and constant drips.

He also added, however, that both agencies are staying in the building for free and so should be able to “help maintain the building.”

“DOE has, like, a $200 million budget and DOA has a $9 million budget,” he said, noting the Legislature’s maintenance budget is just enough to cover regular maintenance costs for the building and some of the surrounding property that also fall under the Legislature’s responsibility.

Documents

Manglona said employees are placing important documents in dry areas. Computers near leaks are covered with plastic sheets.

“The main (computer) servers are at (a data office) across the street. But all the information is input in the offices downstairs,” she said, adding that the leaks from the second floor trickle to first-floor offices such as the Treasurer of Guam, where vendors pick up payments and tax refund checks are stored for residents who prefer not to have checks mailed to them.

She said a flood resulting from a busted pipe last month left a number of documents damp, Administration Department personnel were able to save important documents and try to store them in places where even a flood can’t get to them.

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