by FunGuy | Jun 25, 2018 | Asbestos Testing, black mold, Certified Mold Inspector Edu, cleaning mold, fungi, fungus, healthy home, inspection, los angeles, mold, mold inspection, mold inspector, mold removal, rain damage
WEST LOS ANGELES (KABC) —
At least 15 residents in a West Los Angeles apartment complex were forced out of their homes after asbestos exposure.
The incident happened around 9:48 p.m. in the 1800 block of Prosser Avenue, when authorities determined that 11 of 12 units in the complex were exposed to asbestos. A county hazmat team was sent to the complex and the residents were evacuated.
The residents were decontaminated by Los Angeles Fire Department crews. Officials said no one showed or mentioned signs of illness or injury from the possible exposure.
Residents living in the complex said it all could have been prevented. They said management had been doing some renovations after a tenant moved out and that the contractor doing work did not remove the popcorn ceiling properly, resulting in the health scare.
“Most property owners know that when you’re doing construction you have to do it properly and dispose of it properly. Unfortunately, they just hired whoever. They took it off and disposed of it in our dumpster and exposed us all for the last few weeks to asbestos,” Shannon Streger said.
The hazmat team will determine if the building should be red-tagged. Any vehicles parked in the complex were also taped off and could not be removed.
Residents were provided temporary lodging by the American Red Cross. They thanked the organization for the help and also the city for its prompt response to the situation.
Hundreds of buildings — from houses to strip malls — could face the wrecking ball after California authorities unraveled a decade-long scam involving a pair of phony building engineers who used stolen software to craft bogus blueprints, officials told FoxNews.com.
Wilfrido Rodriguez and Ruben Gutierrez, allegedly posing as licensed professionals and using stolen software, drew up engineering and architectural plans for homes, apartments, commercial properties and strip malls in at least 56 Southern California cities beginning in 2003, according to police. Neither had the training, expertise or credentials to vouch for the safety of the building plans, and authorities are only now grasping the scope of the problem.
“There has never been a case involving alleged engineering fraud of this magnitude,” Detective Rod Barton, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Fraud and Cyber Crimes Bureau, told FoxNews.com. “Because this involves fraud related to structural engineering, we just don’t know if the houses are safe, unsafe or suitable for habitation.”
“There has never been a case involving alleged engineering fraud of this magnitude.”
– Det. Rod Barton, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
The pair duped architects, builders and homeowners into believing they knew what they were doing, Barton said. Now, authorities are tasked with reviewing every building the pair worked on and determining if they are structurally sound, an issue made all the more urgent given the frequency of earthquakes in California.
“A significant concern is foundations,” said Panos Prevedouros, a professor and chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. “Experienced drafters can work out safe designs for small masonry structures, but proper foundation design and specialized structural components required detailed engineering analysis.”
Before embarking on their alleged scam, the pair worked for the Rolling Hills Estates-based Palos Verdes Engineering Company. The company, which declined to comment for this story, told authorities it uncovered the alleged engineering fraud after a customer complained about an offer made by the men in April 2014.
phonyengineers2 Expand / Contract
Police say the men are now cooperating, but the scope of the problem is massive.
Since that time, Barton and his bureau have been tracking down projects that involved the pair, and have been stunned and horrified at the number of buildings involved.
“Up until then, nobody had any knowledge that this fraud was occurring,” Barton told FoxNews.com. “We visited 56 cities from San Bernardino and Riverside to Ventura County. Our nexus were the initial files Palos Verdes Engineering identified, and then we segued into other projects. It was a lot of groundwork.”
Law enforcement authorities are working the Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists to determine the scope and risk posed by the alleged fraud.
“Evidence thus far uncovered leads us to believe there were hundreds of projects built on their fraudulent structural engineering,” said Tiffany Criswell, the board’s enforcement manager. “Evidence leads us to believe there are additional properties we have yet to identify.”
One challenge for law enforcement is that many local governments only keep design and engineering plans on file for six months.
“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sent contact letters to homeowners, developers, and architectural designers whose properties have been identified as possibly being associated with fraudulent structural engineering,” Barton said. “Investigators believe additional properties associated with structural engineering fraud may exist, but have not yet been identified.”
The men have not been charged and are cooperating with the sheriffs’ detectives. While sheriffs didn’t say how much the men allegedly profited on the deal, they likely made at least $2,000 to $3,000 per project on potentially several hundred projects over 11 years, according to industry insiders.
The LA sheriff’s white collar crime division will consider the case and whether to charge the men with a variety of crimes including civil engineering fraud, grand theft, theft of company identity, and forgery, LA sheriffs’ detectives said.
Palos Verdes Engineering Company had no business relations with the men between 2003 and 2014, during the time the alleged fraud occurred, Barton said. The men allegedly stole software from the company, which was used to produce fraudulent engineering plans bearing its company name and logo, Barton said.
“Palos Verdes Engineering Company’s civil engineer seal and forged signature was also used on structural engineering records to make the plans appear authentic, and as if they had been reviewed and approved by a licensed professional civil engineer.”
Legitimate professional engineers must have a degree in civil engineering, pass several grueling exams and obtain five years of experience before they can sign off on design documents for implementation.
On the architectural side, the value of architectural licensure is “immeasurable,” said Matt Tinder, spokesperson for The American Institute of Architects, in Washington, DC.
“Without it, the entire built environment could serve as a public safety hazard,” Tinder said.
While there have been no glaring design flaws brought to the sheriff’s attention, there could be a risk to the public, which could be heightened by a natural disaster such as an earthquake. The sheriff’s department is advising homeowners who worked with Rodriguez and Gutierrez to contract the services of a civil engineer to go through the plans, examine their residence and determine if they are safe.
“We want to make sure people are safe,” Barton said. “There is a reason all these requirements are in place. When the whole procedure is circumvented, something bad can happen.
1. Fix any roof leaks before it rains. This is a sure way to prevent water damage to the attic, insulation, and ceilings within your home.
2. Gutters and downspouts should be clean and free of debris. Also look for any breaks and make sure the gutters are tight against the roofline. Moving water away from the home with rain gutters and downspouts will help prevent water from damaging your home.
3. Buy a generator. This standby generator will help provide light and possibly heat during a power outage.
4. Install a sump pump for areas below grade. Moving water from low lying areas will prevent ponding and potential water damage to your home.
5. Exterior surfaces of the home should be touched up, sealed, or painted. Seal up any holes from cables and other wires that penetrate exterior walls to prevent water damage.
6. Examine your windows. Look for holes in the seals and caulk the openings. Check and recaulk as needed.
7. Check balcony and deck slopes. Look for holes, loose, and degrading layers of building materials on the surface of patios or decks.
8. Call an exterminator to prevent pests from intruding during the rain.
9. Store emergency repair materials (sandbags, heavy plastic sheeting) in a safe dry place.
10. Vechile – Maintain tires and fill up your gas tank.
11. Buy new windshield wipers. This will help you drive safely during the heavy rains.
12. How old is your car’s battery? At three years, have it checked by a trusted mechanic.
13. Drainage. Prepare your yard by sloping landscape away from your home. Note new drainage patterns if you have recently changed to an environmentally friendly yard.
14. Automatic Timers: Turn off your system.
15. Loosen compacted soil: Ground that has been allowed to dry out will repel water initially. Make sure soil levels are below the stucco line of your home to prevent water damage.
16. Have your trees checked: With the drought taking a toll on all trees, now is the time to bring in a certified arborist — not a simple tree cutter — to do a health check and risk assessment.
17. Secure your yard: Reinforce your fencing if needed. Store or tie down anything that might blow and cause damage in high wind.
18. Have materials on hand to divert water: Sandbags, concrete edgers and straw-waddle tubing can effectively channel water away from structures to drainage areas.
19. Secure important documents in the cloud or on a thumb drive.
20. Put together preparedness and disaster supply kits for your home and car. FEMA, the California Department of Water Resources and the Auto Club are just three of many organizations that list important things to have on hand. For more information, go to www.floodprepareCA.com (California Department of Water Resources), www.ladbs.org (Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety “Homeowners Guide for Flood, Debris Flow and Erosion Control”), www.ready.gov (National Weather Service) and www.aaa.com (Automobile Club of Southern California).
21. Prepare now: Experts agree that the toughest time to find solutions to rain-related issues is during a rainstorm.
1. Emergency Kit
Key items to include in an emergency kit include:
- Food and water to last you and your family 72 hours
- First aid supplies
- Any medical supplies you might need, like medications and spare eyeglasses.
You should also include a flashlight with extra batteries in your emergency kit in case you lose power during a winter storm.
You can find most things you’d want in an emergency kit around your home. Take a minute to gather them together to store in a safe place, so that you’re ready for any emergency.
2. Create a Plan
Creating an emergency plan for you, your family, or your business can help you better react to and recover from any emergency. Making a plan isn’t hard. By taking a few simple steps, you can be better prepared for life’s emergencies.
Talk to your family about how they would react to an emergency, for example an earthquake or a mudslide:
- Do you know what kinds of emergencies you might face at your home, school, or workplace?
- How will you know when there is an emergency in your area? What if you’re not at home?
- How will you get in touch with each other? Remember: cell phone service might be down, so think of a few different options.
- How will you let family and friends out of state know you’re okay?
- If you are separated during an emergency, how will your family reunite? Where will they reunite?
- How will you begin to recover? Do you have copies of important legal and vital documents stored somewhere safe?
Once you’ve started the conversation, get started on the plan. Use one of the easy, helpful templates from Ready.gov to get stared or create a customized plan using the Prepare LA Now web app.
3. Get Sandbags
Visit any neighborhood LAFD fire station to pick up sandbags. You can find your nearest fire station at the Los Angeles Fire Department website.
Some fire stations also have sand available. For a list of stations with sand, click here.
Not sure what to do with those sandbags once you’ve picked them up? Learn how to properly fill and place a sandbag from the pros.
Get pets prepared with these simple tips:
- Make sure that your pets have current City of Los Angeles Licenses. You can get a new license or renew your dog’s license online! Click here to get started.
- Micro-chip your pets, and verify information at least once a year! You can get your pets micro-chipped at any of the six L.A. City shelters (no appointments necessary).
- Remember to include pet food, water, leashes, medications, and treats in your emergency kit.
- Keep copies of your pets vital documents, and include the pets in your emergency plans.
- Your companion animals should have up-to-date vaccinations.
5. Get Prepared
Now is the time to get your home ready for wet winter weather. Here are some tips to get started:
- Walk around your home and look for anything that might cause problems during a storm. Is your roof showing signs of leaking? Are your gutters overflowing with leaves? Does water drain off your property? Once you’ve identified potential issues, you can start addressing them.
- Review your homeowners renters insurance policy. Does it cover flood damage? If not, the National Flood Insurance Program might be right for you.
- Clear out gutters and secure any loose items in your yard that might clog storm drains and cause flooding.
- Trim any trees that might fall over during a storm. (If you use a contractor, don’t get scammed. Be sure to check their license before starting work.)
- Install rain barrels or other water conservation systems to collect water, which saves money and is drought friendly. Learn more about El Niño and the Drought.
- Get a kit, get a plan, and practice it! Remember, your preparing for El Niño will better prepare you for whatever LA might throw our way.
- If you’re concerned about flooding, get sandbags before storms arrive. Learn how to get free sandbags.
Learn more > > > http://www.elninola.com/ready/
IAQA University Webinar 2015
Friday, December 4, 2015 – 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm ET
Although there are more than 10 million species of bacteria on earth, very few cause human illness. Of those species that do, only a small number have an airborne transmission. This webinar will discuss the impact of Legionella, filamentous bacteria and endotoxins on indoor air quality. You’ll learn why bacteria needs to be considered during a thorough air quality assessment.
$25 IAQA Members
$40 Non-IAQA Members
Register for the webinar! Space is limited.
Click here to log-in/join the IAQA website. Log-in/Join
Click here for instructions on how to register for the webinar. Register
***About the Instructor: Ian Cull is President of Indoor Sciences, an indoor air quality training and consulting company based in Chicago, IL. Mr. Cull is a professional engineer and indoor air quality consultant who has performed IAQ assessments since 1995 on all different building types. Mr. Cull wrote and developed 50 classes for the IAQA University covering topics such as HVAC, building science, assessments, sampling and remediation. Mr. Cull is a past board member and officer of the IAQA. He is a highly commended speaker that is known for making complex topics easy to understand.
Go-To-Meeting is the webinar delivery mechanism. Log into the IAQA website to register for the webinar and you will be sent a direct link where you will be prompted to RSVP for the webinar with Go-to-Webinar. Go-to-Webinar will automatically send you your specific login to the webinar (only one person may register off this personalized link). You will also receive periodic reminders from Go-to-Webinar about the time and date of your webinar.