10/20/16 4:30pm

BOXES OF EVIDENCE TAKE COLD SHOWER IN HPD PROPERTY ROOM FREEZER 1202 Washington Ave., Washington Ave, Houston, 77002The still-under-investigation malfunction of an evidence freezer fire sprinkler at the HPD Property Room on Washington Ave. yesterday may have compromised evidence in as many as 4,200 cases, a Harris County district attorney’s office rep tells KHOU. Acting police chief Martha Montalvo says that some the moistened cardboard boxes and envelopes contained DNA evidence (though seemingly none related to sexual assault cases); she also adds that most of the individual samples are bagged in a few layers of sealed plastic. Mayor Turner announced that HPD’s forensic folks will help repackage the dampened evidence and see whether any of it has been damaged or compromised; reps from the DA’s office say they will be in touch with the lawyers of anyone whose case might be impacted by the samples in question. [KHOU] Photo of HPD Property Room at 1202 Washington Ave.: City of Houston

02/07/14 2:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: ONE OF THOSE THINGS KEEPING BUDGET-MINDED TOWNHOUSES FROM A FULL 4 STORIES Fire Sprinkler“City of Houston only requires fire sprinklers on homes 4 stories and higher. That’s why so many townhouses stop at 3 stories and have an unfinished room leading to a roof terrace on the 4th floor. Also, exterior finish materials over 40 feet high must be non-combustible.” [Spencer Howard, commenting on Comment of the Day: Everything New Is So Much Better] Illustration: Lulu

07/08/09 1:40pm

FAST FOOD FIRE FOAM FAKE-OUTS Acting on the orders of a prank caller, managers of 2 local Arby’s locations recently ended up spraying foam all over their kitchen and food-prep areas. The caller, claiming to be from the local fire department, said that the system had been turned off, but instructed the manager in each instance to pull the lever that activates the fire suppression equipment — to allow the department to perform a test. At the Arby’s on Garth Rd. in Baytown, the foam caused at least $600 in physical damage and significantly more in loss of business during the cleanup. At an Arby’s in Clear Lake, employees “followed the instructions from the caller even further and broke out the windows of the restaurant, according to [Baytown Detective Lt. Eric] Freed. The Jack-In-The-Box on Decker Drive in Baytown also got a similar call, but did not do anything that the caller said to do, he said.” [Baytown Sun]

06/30/09 2:37pm

NO LOCAL SPRINKLER CONTROLS FOR TEXAS That ordinance passed by West University’s city council that would have required sprinklers in all new West U homes won’t go into effect — despite the lobbying efforts of local fire chiefs. Earlier this month Governor Perry went ahead and signed a bill that takes away the right of local municipalities to create sprinkler requirements. An amendment to the bill was added shortly after West U’s ordinance passed, but is retroactive to the first of the year. [Off the Kuff; previously on Swamplot]

06/09/09 2:34pm

WEST U’S SHORT-LIVED SPRINKLER REQUIREMENT Late last month the West University City Council passed an ordinance requiring all new homes built in the city to have fire-protection sprinklers. This apparently did not sit well with Texas Rep. John Otto, who represents Dayton, a small town in Liberty County more than 40 miles to the northeast. An amendment to a bill sponsored by Otto, which was originally meant to address the licensing of plumbers, takes away the right of a municipality to require sprinklers — retroactive to the first of this year. The bill passed the legislature shortly after the West U ordinance: “The bill, not yet signed by Gov. Rick Perry, was created at the urging of the Texas Association of Builders, citing potentially increased home costs. Monday, [West U Fire Chief Steve] Ralls was flanked by fire chiefs from Austin and Dallas, along with city of Houston Assistant Chief Karen Dupont, at an event one block away from the Governor’s Mansion, which was devastated by fire one year ago. ‘We’ll do whatever it takes to make our ordinance stick,’ said Ralls. [West University Examiner; more at Texas Politics]