Local company fined thousands of dollars

Amarillo, TX - A local fire alarm company has been fined by the state fire marshal's office after a three year investigation.

Consent order papers show a number of violations found during a Firehawk Safety System investigation, resulting in a fine of 45,000 dollars which the company paid just over a month ago.

During the investigation, the state fire marshal's office learned there were problems with the way Firehawk Safety Systems installed kitchen safety systems for more than 20 schools with the Amarillo Independent School District.

When asked to comment, AISD replied...

"Approximately five years ago, Firehawk Safety Systems improperly installed 22 fire extinguisher systems in our school kitchens. The systems were functional, but some of the piping was not properly sealed..."

When this was uncovered during the Firehawk investigation, AISD says Firehawk was quick to fix the problem, stating...

"Upon notification of the problem, Firehawk immediately rectified the situation at no cost to the district. In the event a fire would have ignited, the extinguisher systems would have been operational despite the defect."

That said, the city fire marshal told NewsChannel 10, though unlikely, there were still some risks.

"Those hoods are designed to extract both smoke heat and grease," Amarillo Fire Marshal Terry McKinney explained. "So any kind of a grease build up within those hoods or ducts could certainly cause a buildup of grease outside the hood that if there was a fire then that grease buildup, could be ignited and it would be outside of the suppression system."

More violations were uncovered during the investigation.

"This involved multiple locations so there was a little bit of a larger scope than some of the cases that we get involved with," State Fire Marshal Mark Lockerman said.

Violations were found with several other businesses. One of the biggest problems was not so much with the systems, but workers who were servicing them.

"That was one element of this case," Lockerman said, "... that unlicensed individuals were being sent with tags that were signed by other people.

Some lacked the proper certification and, if they missed a step, there were risks.

"If things aren't installed properly and maintained properly, there's always that potential for them not to respond in the event of a fire or maybe respond but not do the job they were designed to do," Lockerman explained.

Though many businesses were affected, the state fire marshal says Firehawk did back track and fix the mistakes.

NewsChannel 10 contacted the owner. He did not want to comment but did re-emphasize that the fine has been paid and all problems were corrected some time ago.