Courtesy of WFTV.COM Channel 9
July 15, 2005
Fla. -- A former city of Orlando fire inspector
said some downtown condos could be a firetrap. The inspector said, when she
brought up her concerns about The Grande Condominiums to city officials, she was
fired. Now, she's suing the city and claiming someone on the inside was forging
The city of Orlando is facing the lawsuit all because the
former fire inspector said sprinkler systems in the downtown condo complex were
never properly inspected. She said documents were forged and top city managers
signed off on failed inspections.
The Grande Condominiums, on South Street in downtown
Orlando, are home to hundreds of Orlando residents, but former city fire
inspector Kathleen Barfield said problems she uncovered with the fire
suppression system have been swept under the carpet. She discovered underground
water feeds were never tested before the four buildings went up. She said she
questioned her superiors in the city permit office.
"I was told that I needed to shut up and learn to get
along, and roughly within 48 hours after that my contract was terminated,"
Now Barfield is suing the city for wrongful termination
and documents obtained by Channel 9 show there's reason for concern.
The city inspection report shows the underground water
system was inspected by a company called Central Florida Tapping. But the man
who owns that company told Channel 9 by phone that Central Florida Tapping never
inspected the underground water lines. In fact, no one seems to know who signed
the inspection report.
E-mail communications from 2002 show that the issue was
under investigation in the city and with the State Fire Marshal. After Channel
9's inquiry, the State Fire Marshal's Office has re-opened its investigation.
Documents show former building official Ken Wagner
approved the paperwork that allowed residents to move into the un-inspected
complex. Wagner no longer works for the city and declined numerous interview
Florida law requires residential property sellers to
disclose anything detrimental about the property, but that's only if they know
The Fire Marshal's spokesman told Channel 9 the agency
"dropped the ball" during it's probe in 2002.
The city responded late Thursday afternoon and said they
performed a second test on the water system and that Barfield's termination was
unrelated to the documents she uncovered.
Can't Show Proof Of Downtown Orlando Condo Inspection