Monday, February 11, 2013

Downtown Jail smoke issue pulled from court agenda

Aftermath of a fire at a federal correctional facility 
Local engineer consulted on smoke test

Waco – County Commissioners will ask a local engineering firm to test the smoke evacuation and detection system at the Courthouse Annex Jail.

The matter was up for a Tuesday presentation from an engineering firm that would test the system and estimate the total cost for a new system that would meet current requirements of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

Commissioner Kelly Snell changed all that.

“We're hoping we can get it cleared under the old standards,” he said. He explained that Abacus Engineering will make a presentation to the Court. “That other guy wants to completely rebuild the system.”

In the balance is a jail operations cost overrun that was 300 percent over budget during the previous fiscal year, and is estimated to run to $2.6million in the current year, for which $1 million has been budgeted to “outside care” of inmate overflow – mostly on weekends.(click here to read a previous report)

Overflow prisoners are currently housed at the for-profit Jack Harwell Detention Center, operated by CEC, Inc.

The current system works just fine. Building Supervisor Sammy Sykora said so in a recent Court session. It was installed in 1978 by a local heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor, and it conforms to standards from that time, which require it to completely turn over the air supply inside the jail within a minimum time frame.(click here for a previous report)

In the interim, the commission has imposed more exacting requirements. Mr. Sykora is not sure if the system would gain the approval of a new inspection if it were performed today under more exacting standards.

The test was done with smoke bombs that approximate the lethal concentration of toxic particulate matter or carbon monoxide that will eventually kill or injure inmates if they are not either evacuated, or given fresh air during a fire emergency, Mr. Sykora told the Court.

Officials at the Commission put their answers to an inquiry for information in ceramics, dialect of high glaze.(click here for a scholarly discussion of the semantics of political speech and communications)

They were unable to confirm or deny that there is any record of the test, which Mr. Sykora termed an “informal” inspection. Said Bubba Mikesh at the Commission, “You would have to fill out an information request form.” James Short said, “The Commission is not responsible for the standards of holding cells.”

Prior to his retirement, former Executive Director Adan Muñoz of the Commission assured The Legendary that the downtown jail is still graced with an operating permit.(click here for a previous report)

According to Assistant Director Shannon Herklotz, an inspector need only revisit the jail and make sure it is still up to standards any day McLennan County chooses to reopen it.
Inspection reports are documented for public inspection in the following fashion, according to an on-line listing of non-compliant Texas jails:

Facility Name: Bosque County Jail
Date: December 18, 2012 ...
...Fire Prevention Plan. Each facility, after consultation with the local fire department or Texas Commission on Fire Protection, shall have and implement a written plan, approved by the Commission, for fire prevention and a fire hazard inspection checklist which shall be evaluated no less than each calendar quarter. The facility shall be inspected annually by a local fire official.
The Bosque Co. Jail has not been inspected this annum by a local fire official. The last documented inspection by a fire official was October 5, 2011. Also, the local fire chief has not completed the mandated training as required by HB 3866 and is not a certified fire inspector...
...Holding Cell - the smoke detector has been tampered with and the cap has been removed and is hanging on by the wiring...
Jackie Semmler, TCJS Inspector

The downtown jail has recently received a $1.2 million remodeling and refurbishment that included a new roof and upgrades in lighting, plumbing and electrical fixtures.

Interim County Judge Scott Felton, a retired banker who has held positions of great responsibility in the Waco-McLennan County Economic Development Corporation, recommended that McLennan County hold off on seeking a current “walk through” inspection until an engineering firm could determine the cost of rebuilding the smoke evacuation and alarm system.

The Commissioners Court appointed him to take over and fill out the unexpired term of Judge Jim Lewis after his resignation in October.

1 comment:

  1. I think Its happen due to not follow the fire alarm system instruction.