PALM SPRINGS — As the number of coronavirus cases and deaths continue to climb in Riverside County, so do tensions, especially among some businesses in the community and their loyal patrons. And, it’s all over boarded up vacant buildings.
Business owners say they simply want to protect their property from vandalism and more.
Some residents took immediately to Facebook to allege that city leaders are more concerned about the aesthetics of having boarded up businesses in this international tourist destination than they are about protecting owners’ property while the coronavirus continues to spread.
The fact that the city will not allow vacant businesses to board up windows, entrances and exits has nothing to do with how it looks and everything to do with stopping more death and destruction during this global pandemic. Boarded up businesses pose a “serious safety” risk, according to police and fire chiefs.
Consider that today, Saturday, April 4, the California Department of Public Health that California now has 12,026 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 276 deaths. As of April 3, local health departments have reported 175 confirmed positive cases in health care workers.
Local businesses will not be allowed to board up their windows, due to “serious safety concerns” the city’s police and fire chief raised at the April 2 City Council meeting.
Some non-essential businesses that recently closed due to the spread of Coronavirus, have boarded up their windows, which is of great concern because it prevents officers on patrol from seeing inside, according to Police Chief Bryan Reyes.
Also, should a fire occur in one of these boarded up businesses, suppression and rescue operations will be delayed as firefighters are not able to quickly identify entry points and are forced to cut through boards unnecessarily for entry, according to Fire Chief Kevin Nalder, who added that if a secondary means of egress becomes necessary to save lives those exits are also boarded — delaying egress during
“precious life-saving minutes.”
On average, fire departments throughout the United States respond to 30,200 structure fires per year in boarded vacant buildings resulting in an average of 60 civilian deaths, 160 injuries, 3,300 firefighter injuries and $710 million in direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
The occurrence of arson in a boarded building is significantly greater according to reports by the National Fire Protection Association and U.S. Fire Administration, Nalder said.
“We are taking this matter seriously. This is a great opportunity for business owners to improve their security systems and makes sure their cameras are pointing in the appropriate directions so we can see what is going on inside,” said Reyes, who noted his officers are fully aware of the businesses closed throughout the City and “stepping up close patrols.”
“We understand that these are difficult times for business owners, but it is important they understand safety is our top priority,” Reyes said.
- Facebook post: Facebook
- Boarded Business: Shutterstock