Courtesy of WFTV.COM Channel 9
July 16, 2005
Fla. -- 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
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
"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
"Without that underground system working
properly, you can't guarantee that the sprinkler system is going to function
properly," Barfield said.
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