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rash of REPEATED arsons in big apt/condo construction in Oakland/Emery

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  • rash of REPEATED arsons in big apt/condo construction in Oakland/Emery

    https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/...e-13332873.php

    https://sf.curbed.com/2017/5/15/1564...ablo-fire-2017

    If you don't make the project 50% "affordable" (slum) the "community" waits till they are about 1/2 done with sheetrock (once rocked lots of built-in fire safety happens) then they burn it down. Rinse, repeat.

    Security is tricky because at that stage you also got 100 and 1 different little subs coming in to do all sorts of little things, all bringing in lots of little cardboard boxes filled with smaller cardboard boxes. Many of these will be just one guy coming in to work for a couple hours on HIS schedule. Trying to do a normal Security access control would have 101 subs wanting to bill you for wasted time of about 3X base contract price.

    These buildings are burned at night, and last time 3800 San Pablo was burned they caught "guy in hoodie on bike" leaving just before fire (as well as TWO guards both sound asleep in cars LOL)......

    BUT......as I mentioned at that stage the whole place is littered with little boxes of outlets, door knobs, switches, etc, that could be used to conceal time delay incendiary devices. There are also a BILLION places to hide a small device in a project that is 1/2 sheetrocked. You can sorta search a bare wood frame OR a fully rocked building (of course you could always put something behind a outlet cover plate, etc) but you can't search a 1/2 rocked building.

    This ain't like the recent phony "self bombing" in the news. Its real "bombs" for real reason by real people willing to risk serious arson and willing to do the crime "in person".

    Really not sure how to solve, besides start building with steel. Of course now steel just got a lot more expensive. LOL.

    PS-while lots of Fire Safety happens once its all rocked and mudded, AND sprinklers on-line....I'm not sure I'd be sleeping too good in such a building.

    1)you got POLITICALLY MOTIVATED dedicated arsonists. Most likely a group of them that can work together.

    2)all that Fire Safety is only designed for ACCIDENTAL "normal" fires, and not resistant to easy disabling/sabotage.

    3)these are all multi-story with minimal exits. No outside Fire Escapes. Stairwells and elevator shafts are wood framed.
    Last edited by Squid; 10-25-2018, 11:42 PM.

  • #2
    Since you were probably one of the guards who was sleeping, perhaps you shouldn't comment.

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    • #3
      Well, as a guy who has guarded plenty of new construction sites, I have to disagree with your assumptions. Not knowing the layout or the guard set up (does he have access to the cameras?), I can't comment directly. (Except that "wood framed elevator shafts" sounds really wrong to me, but I will admit I have not looked lately.) I have also done arson patrols, so I actually know what I'm talking about.

      Yes, there are lots of little boxes all over the place, but you can mitigate that by A) having the foreman tell his guys not to leave little boxes all over, and B) OBSERVING what is going on on your site. Is there a little box out of place? What work is going on on floor X ? As in, if there is no electrical work going on, and there's a box with wires on that floor, you should check it out.

      A determined arsonist (like a thief) can be in and out in no time. But random patrols and being proactive work. I regularly contacted people standing at the perimeter looking at the sites - 3/4ths were just curious about the project. 1/4 were obviously casing the place, and they were either politely reminded of the safety hazards of construction sites and / or the trespassing laws, or told flat out to leave or risk a call to the local PD (we had descriptions of at least four metal thieves). None of the arson watch sites I worked at ever had a crime - the only problem was getting the building owners not to leave stacks of wood pallets up against a back wall where the light was burned out, etc.

      Finally, arsonists run the gamut. Yes, Squid, it could be people with political agendas. It could be locals who don't want the complex. It could be jealous homeless people who see it as more rich people moving in, or the complex displaced their favorite drug spot. Or it could be a warped guy who likes to set things on fire and saw an opportunity. This is an example where well trained and motivated security can actually do what we're supposed to do: "Protection of life and property."
      Last edited by Condo Guard; 10-29-2018, 05:29 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Condo Guard View Post

        Yes, there are lots of little boxes all over the place, but you can mitigate that by

        A determined arsonist (like a thief) can be in and out in no time.

        Yes, Squid, it could be people with political agendas.
        Its about 8 story wood on top of 2/3 layers of concrete parking. IIRC ANYONE can design and build up to 4 stories in wood (including elevators, or at least shafts) as long as your plans follow Code, and up to 6 stories with just Architect, over 6 stories you need Struct Engineer (finally someone with actual brain). I've framed wood houses with elevators. Ask the E-guy "how far out can the shaft be over the 3 stories?" "Can't be out at all, needs to be exact!" LOL. Special kind of heavy sheetrock, forgot name.

        Even on the strictest job sites, its a battle just to have the trades clean up their own mess. Between a few Security and Supers and a reasonably dedicated Arsonist its gonna go to Arsonist by long shot.

        This area has long and current history of strong political feelings about "gentrification" including especially this developer. One reason I quit the site was they were having some "problems" with graffiti. Not on anything even close to "Finished surface" just on old walls and temp walls that weren't due for paint for another 6months at best. A "crazy woman" (EVERY GUARD called her that) at our company wanted us to "take control" of busy sidewalk and "show the locals its OUR playground" as Armed Guards, etc. Pretty much exact opposite of low profile and friendly stance the builder was trying to maintain, and begging for someone to take a shot at you in the rough neighborhood. Also exactly the sort of thing I was told you can't have armed guards do on public property.

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