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Gazette Premium Content Report: Major glitches plagued LAX terminal

Associated Press Updated: March 15, 2014 at 4:45 pm

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Internal records show that false fire alarms, balky elevators, a troublesome closed-circuit camera system and other problems plagued Los Angeles International Airport's international terminal in the months following a major upgrade, the Los Angeles Daily News reported Saturday.

In the month after the refurbished Tom Bradley International Terminal reopened in September, 18 fire "incident" calls, most of them false alarms, were logged, the Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/1eEHX7b ). Airport officials couldn't figure out what caused most of them.

"I suggest we disconnect all the alarms in the affected area and put the area on fire watch until the tenant work is done," Roger Johnson, Los Angeles World Airports' deputy executive director of airports development, wrote in Oct. 22 email obtained by the newspaper through a state Public Records Act request.

"We have to stop this insanity," Johnson said.

Other problems included water leaks, employees stuck in elevators and closed-circuit cameras that didn't see everything they should have.

On many days, boarding gates had to be taken out of service while repairs were made, the newspaper reported.

Johnson told the Daily News that the problems have since been corrected. He added that they are not unusual when a construction project as extensive as the international terminal renovation, which cost nearly $2 billion, is undertaken.

"LAWA's Airports Development Group anticipated issues would arise, planned for and included appropriate funding in the budget to make any necessary repairs and or adjustments," he said in an email.

Other problems the newspaper cited included jet fuel pits with uneven metal covers, a contaminated system used to pump water onto aircraft, and problems with people urinating on the floor and smoking in a mechanical room.

Control tower operators complained that the closed-circuit camera system had blind spots that made it difficult for controllers to see planes as they pulled away from the terminal.

"We cannot accept the equipment unless we can be 100 percent sure the information that the system is providing is 100 percent accurate," John F. Nelson, operations manager for the tower, said in an email.

Robert Brehm, a professor of civil architectural and environmental engineering at Drexel University, agreed that such problems often turn up after new construction. But he said he was surprised there were so many fire alarms.

"When you commission a building, you have to expect there are some hiccups," he said. "The fact that there were 18 alarms? Normally, you would find the reason in short period. I can understand three or four or five, but I would have expected they would have found the flaw earlier."

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