A new batch of inspection reports shows ongoing fire code issues at State Farm Stadium and what is being done to remediate the violations before the stadium hosts next month’s Super Bowl.
Before fans arrive at stadiums for games and events, inspectors from the Arizona Fire Department tour the facilities to ensure compliance with state fire and life safety codes.
ABC15’s first study, in September, found 190 inspections over five years, with stadiums failing 87 inspections, a failure rate of 46%. A single offense could result in a failing test, but some failing exams had him having 20 or more offenses.
At the time, the stadium’s general manager, Andy Gorchev, told ABC15 that his employees would be more proactive in correcting potential fire violations before inspections. He also said fire alarm system trouble alerts would be repaired in a more timely manner.
“That’s my hope and expectation,” Gorchev said when asked if test scores would improve in the coming months.
Last week, ABC15 obtained the state fire inspection report for August-December 2022. In this batch, State Farm Stadium failed 19 out of 27 inspections.
Although the 70% failure rate is higher than the five-year average, new reports show that many violations were fixed on the spot or within days of a deputy fire brigade visit.
“Before we really weren’t [sic] State Fire Marshal Kathy Peters said:
This fall, the stadium hired a fire/life safety expert. Oversee the process from the stadium side with state fire inspectors during all stadium events.
Violations in the latest series of inspections included blocked doors and emergency exits, impeding access to electrical panels, and non-compliant fire suppression systems.
“They are minor in nature,” Peters said.
The 27 new reports included at least one “inherent danger” violation that the state requires “fixed within 48 hours.” A report dated Aug. 21, 2022, said Peters, showed multiple trouble alerts displayed on the stadium’s fire alarm panel, “the brains of the entire fire safety system.”
The stadium had repeated troubles with its alarm system. In 2021, the alarm system was tagged as non-compliant, and a state inspection report pointed him to a red tag for over a year.
When Gorchov met with ABC15 in September, he showed them a third-party inspection certificate dated 16 August 2022, confirming that the alarm system had been inspected and complied with fire safety regulations.
“The system is not broken. The system is fully functional,” Gorchev said.
ABC15 investigators learned that the alarm’s certificate of compliance was issued just five days before the impending threat breach. Additionally, less serious alarm troubles appeared in reports throughout the fall. Peters provided an explanation.
“You can come out one day and fix it, and three days later some other little sensor or something can go wrong and cause problems with your system,” Peters said. It needs repair.”
Malfunctioning alarm systems can delay detection of fires and other hazards and delay emergency evacuation. ABC15 investigators reached out to fire safety experts to better understand the safety needs of large stadiums.
“When there is an emergency, bad things happen quickly,” said Butch Browning, executive director of the National Association of Fire Marshals. “A small fire or an arc in an outlet that produces a small amount of smoke can cause a great deal of panic if there are people in the building who must be evacuated.”
State Farm Stadium’s fire alarm system required repairs again this month. The alarm panel said he was one of about 50 fire code violations detected during inspections before the Fiesta Bowl on December 30. A revised version of the inspection report was not yet available to indicate what had been corrected.
“We know the norms and standards for saving lives and protecting property, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the building owner, the building operator, to maintain safety,” Browning said. I’m here. “The point of these tests is to come in and have a second eye.”
Millions will be watching what happens at State Farm Stadium during Super Bowl VII on February 12th.
The stadium manager declined to be interviewed regarding the latest set of inspection reports, but a spokesperson provided the following statement:
Safety is a top priority at State Farm Stadium. The stadium’s fire protection system is fully operational. Working with local public safety and law enforcement agencies, the stadium’s comprehensive fire safety inspection program ensures an ongoing risk assessment process to identify potential safety issues and address them in a timely manner . At the Super Bowl, all football games and other major stadium events see the presence of substantial fire safety on-site to ensure a safe environment for everyone in attendance.
Super Bowl fire/life safety matters at State Farm Stadium have no direct involvement with state fire marshals. Instead, a multi-jurisdictional group led by the Glendale Fire Department will take over. Glendale released the following statement on Monday.
Our fire safety team brings the same level of expertise, diligence and safety to game day that we do every day at every City of Glendale event.Ensuring the safety of our citizens, visitors and vendors is our number one priority. For us, game days are just like any other day. Our fire protection team conducts on-site inspections to ensure the highest level of service and safety.