August 17, 2017
The City of Lakewood and West Pierce Fire & Rescue officials closed the B&I Public Marketplace at end of business Wednesday, August 16 out of concern for public safety. The building will remain closed until its owners can show they have addressed the public safety hazards identified by the city and West Pierce Fire & Rescue officials.
The decision to close the business was not done quickly or lightly.
City and fire officials conducted two joint inspections of the property – one in April and another in June. At both visits significant hazards were identified, including, but not limited to:
- Commercial cooking operations without annual confidence testing of the hood suppression systems, making it unclear if the system would work.
- Deficiencies in the fire protection system during a previous inspection.
- Multiple changes to walls affecting sprinkler head spray patterns resulting in inadequate sprinkler coverage to sections of the building.
- A structurally unsound lean-to area at the back of the building.
- Numerous sprinkler heads painted over or blocked by items in the suspended ceiling areas, preventing them from working properly.
- Numerous code violations in the electrical wiring and extension cords between vendor spaces. This electrical work was completed without permits and electrical inspections.
- Walls were added and/or removed without permits and inspections.
Over the course of three months the city made numerous attempts to contact the owners of the building, including repeated phone calls and certified letters. Those attempts were unsuccessful. That city’s intent was, and still is, to work with the owners to make the building safe.
Finally the city made contact the building owner’s agent. The agent was given an August 1 deadline to produce reports on the status of the fire protection devices, electrical system and a structural engineer review. That deadline was extended to August 15 in an attempt to work with the owners.
The electrical report was provided August 16. The fire and structural engineering reports have not been submitted. The electrical report was sent to the state Department of Labor and Industries and Tacoma Power for expedited review.
The city will work closely and quickly with the building owner to get the building open.