HONOLULU — The Honolulu Fire Department announced it is working with the state to ensure workplace safety after it was cited for not following proper safety procedures and exposing firefighters to asbestos in the deadly blaze at the Marco Polo condominium.

The department was fined $7,000 after many of the 120 firefighters who responded to the July 14 incident didn’t properly bag contaminated protective firefighting gear and equipment while at the scene, instead waiting until they returned to their stations or the next day, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/2yWAceK) Tuesday.

The department has up to 20 days to contest the citation and didn’t initially state why procedures weren’t followed.

Department spokesman Capt. David Jenkins said the department will provide further information once the process is completed.

“The HFD places the health and safety of its personnel at the highest priority and will continue to work with (the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division) toward ensuring workplace safety while maintaining its ability to serve the public,” Jenkins said.

The Hawaii Fire Fighters Association in July filed the initial complaint about the incomplete decontamination procedures.

“Honestly, in our business . this is just plain and simple fire department common sense,” said Bobby Lee, president of the association.

The Fire Department received confirmation in August that the Marco Polo building contained asbestos and said it was taking additional precautions to ensure the safety of the firefighters’ gear that may have been exposed to the hazardous material. Many of the 568 residential units at the 36-story complex remain uninhabitable from the fire, which killed three people. A fourth person died after being hospitalized following the blaze.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com