City Can't Show Proof Of Downtown Orlando Condo Inspection


Article Courtesy of WFTV.COM Channel 9

Posted July 16, 2005


A fire suppression system in a downtown Orlando condo complex may not work and that's frightening news for those who call it home. The city says it inspected the system, but where's the proof?

The controversy surrounds The Grande Condominiums on South Street in downtown Orlando. A whistleblower lawsuit claims vital safety inspections weren't done. The city says they were, but Eyewitness News has found the company the city claims it used isn't even licensed to do the tests.

"It's very disturbing. It's scary," said resident Barbara Kudis.

Kudis is one of hundreds of residents at The Grande Condominiums who had no idea their fire suppression system might be compromised. Former fire investigator Kathleen Barfield is suing the city. Her attorney said she was fired after blowing the whistle on a dangerous permit violation.

"People could die over it, that's right. If the fire inspections aren't done properly, that could happen and that was the concern of Ms. Barfield," said attorney Carol Swanson.

Barfield's lawsuit says she found documents about tests that never happened. Fire codes require pressure tests and flushes of underground pipes. Barfield says the pipes were covered with dirt and cement before the tests ever happened. The city says the tests were done, but it still hasn't provided the required documents that prove it.

Friday, city hall provided other documents that say the test was done, but couldn't provide the documents required under state fire codes.

"Without that underground system working properly, you can't guarantee that the sprinkler system is going to function properly," Barfield said.


The city said Barfield's termination was unrelated to The Grande Condominium project. But Channel 9 found that Barfield's boss signed off on the inspections on August 30, 2002, the exact same day Barfield was fired.

Former Inspector Says Downtown Condo Could Be Firetrap