HFD fined for asbestos-related violations during Marco Polo fire response – Hawaii News Now


MOILIILI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) –

Two and a half months after a fire ripped through the Marco Polo highrise in Moiliili, the Honolulu Fire Department is being slapped with a fine over asbestos exposure concerns.

In a notice dated Sept. 28, 2017, the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH) said an investigation found that HFD violated workplace safety standards by failing to reduce the level of potential asbestos exposure for firefighters. HIOSH said HFD also failed to ensure prompt decontamination procedures took place after the fire. 

“Only one company bagged their turn-out gear and equipment at the scene and the rest of the companies did not do so until they returned to their stations. Some fire fighters did not bag their contaminated turn-out gear until the end of their shift i.e. next morning. As a result, the fire trucks and/or the fire stations may be contaminated with asbestos and/or other hazardous materials,” the notice said. 

The penalties, classified as serious, resulted in a $7,000 fine for HFD. 

HIOSH completed the investigation after receiving a complaint on July 21. 

In July, Hawaii News Now reported HFD was under scrutiny for other issues regarding the Marco Polo response.

Firefighter union president Bobby Lee said he was miserable with how executives handled it, and that resources were lacking.

“When you’re looking at a five-alarm fire, it really is a fire that requires all of the command people to be there, especially the executive staff,” Lee said in July. “You got civilian deaths, you got over 100 firefighters there on scene. I was somewhat disappointed that the executive staff, that they weren’t there.” 

Lee says an expensive HFD mobile command unit should’ve been utilized, but wasn’t.

“There’s no reason for it not to be there,” Lee said. “That’s what we bought, or the department bought that truck for. They spent a lot of money, public money, to have that resource available to our firefighters. To not only protect them, but to protect the public. And there’s absolutely no reason for it not to be there.”

HFD must pay the fine within 20 days of receiving the notice. The department also has until November 2 to abate the violations. 

Fire officials have not yet released the cause of the deadly blaze.  

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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