Skip to comments.Judge Declines Dismissal Of Manslaughter Case Against Architect Charged In Death Of Firefighter
Posted on 07/10/2013 6:10:50 PM PDT by BenLurkin
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) A judge Wednesday declined to dismiss the involuntary manslaughter case against an architect charged in the death of a veteran firefighter.
Gerhard Albert Becker, 48, was arrested in February 2012 after the ceiling of a 12,500 square-foot Hollywood Hills home fell on 61-year-old Glenn Allen in 2011.
The 36-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department got trapped when a fire in the home burned through plastic sprinkler pipes in the attic and filled the space with water that collapsed the ceiling.
Allen had to be cut out and later died at a local hospital.
Becker was the architect who designed and oversaw construction of the residence. Prosecutors say he had installed outdoor fireplaces inside the home.
The defense argued the courts should dismiss the case because he was not allowed to present evidence that the city inspector gave him permission to build the defective fireplace that caused the death, prosecutor Sean Carney told KNX1070s Claudia Peschuitta.
It was clear that the defendant did not rely on anything that the city inspector told him since he tried at almost every opportunity to circumvent requirements the city was imposing on him.
Becker pleaded not guilty and is expected to go on trial later this year
But seriously, as the number of both regulations, inspectors and after the fact court judgements rain down...why would any potential professional bother to sign on to the liability required to attain his/her position. Excrement occurs and buyer beware.
Once upon a time, the word for architect in Spanish was “ingeniero,” meaning engineer. Once architects got to be artists who didn’t give a darn about engineering, or didn’t even know much about it, things went downhill. Frank Lloyd Wright couldn’t design a building that didn’t leak.
You are correct about FLW’s buildings leaking - a friend of mine lives in one - but my friend tells me that FLW knew about it and it was intentional. By the way, the house was built in the ‘40s and is still in great condition.
Amen! I started college majoring in architecture. I expected to learn some engineering. After two years I finally figured out that “art” is all there was. Switched to chemistry.
If the owner got a CO and nothing substantial has been modified since, this should be on the Building Inspector.
You got that right. You could graduate as an architect at the University of Washington without ever taking a drafting course.
Well that is stunning. I studied interior design and we had to do drafting. Just never figured I could be an architect because of all the math.
A true modern day architect is closer to an attorney than a structural engineer/designer. He mainly just oversees construction documents, proposals, requests for bids, etc.
But they have to design the concept and how it will work. Specify. etc.
Lots of liability there.
If it wasn’t for Wes Peters, who was an engineer as well an architect, Wright’s buildings would have all fallen down.
It’s somewhat ironic the firefighter was killed as a consequence of a fire protection system failing when it was required to be installed by the same firefighting union.
Boy, ain't that the truth!
You can get 19 inspectors on the same project visit the site 5 times and you will still get more than 100 opinions.
Not sure what a firefighters union has to do with this. According to another article, Becker altered the home after the final inspection, putting in four outdoor fireplaces inside in violation of city building codes. There were not required firebreaks, and the fire spread from a fireplace on the third floor into the attic, ultimately causing the ceiling to collapse and kill the firefighter.
“Edith, the ter-let’s overflowing again!”
Sprinkler fitters belong to a different union in this state.
I’ve never been on a project designed by an architect that didn’t have at least one major mistake.
Sounds to me like he screwed the pooch.
Firefighters install sprinkler systems and not pipefitters or plumbers? You learn something new every day on FR.
A 12,500 SF home on a firefighters pay?
Firefighters are the ones who promote NFPA 13 for more worldly authority. Their justification is not to save property, but simply to save lives.
Normally residences don’t require fire sprinkling until the last 20 years.
In this situation, wealthy home owner was now required by the codes to install fire protection systems. Since they used plastic pipe, it’s obvious they were simply complying with the codes, without any intent to gold plate the fire protection system.
It probably was installed by code and inspected and approved, but then when a fire melted the plastic pipe, it flooded the area above, then collapsed upon a firefighter who went into the wrong place at the wrong time.
Not the plumber’s fault nor the pipefitter, or in this case the FP KTR.
Had the FP not been there, the firefighter wouldn’t have been killed by flooded ceiling spaces.
The entire NFPA mafia caused this.
Supposedly a client called up Wright and told him water was leaking on his desk from the ceiling. Wright said, “Move the desk.”
The NFPA, which doesn’t have anything to do with unions—in fact, it was founded by insurance companies—has helped save the lives of many firefighters that would otherwise be lost protecting the safety and property of the communities they serve.
They do have an interesting history, more associated with underwriters than insurance companies, but they have migrated into a beast with codes approved by most municipalities, which don’t well represent the public’s best interests.
For example, in CA, if you live in the desert, 1000ft to half a mile from your nearest neighbor, you are required to install about $60k of plumbing in your $20k-$100k home by their recent codes. The FP systems only provide protection for somebody to exit the house in the event of fire, but in the process destroy most private property in the house. At that cost, it would be more reasonable to let the house burn, then replace it for the same cost.
Instead, now the entire community must bear that burdensome cost, without reducing their risk to fire.
Yes, in some situations it might save a life, but poverty also can kill. So who is more good or evil, those who insist on more stringent fire codes, or those who design to their intent, but saves the property owner their cash?