Owner speaking out on security center's safety
13 Investigates is uncovering more troubling details about the city's new regional operations center, known as the "ROC."
The facility was allowed to host security for last year's Super Bowl with the same systems that now have the facility under a costly "fire watch." The managing property owner is now speaking out as the $18 million price tag grows.
The FBI, state police and IMPD worked around the clock in a building where the city fire marshal discovered serious safety code violations in October, eight months after Super Bowl XLVI. Since October, the center has been under "fire watch."
"If I felt something was really dangerous, I would have had the building shut down," insisted Fred Pervine, the city's fire marshal.
13 Investigates wants to know how the building now requires constant watch, but was cleared to host the massive security team?
"The FBI had the sprinkler system certified via Quantico. The FBI was going to not allow the regional operation center to host Super Bowl security if they could not certify their sprinkler system," managing owner Alex Carroll told 13 Investigates by phone.
Carroll did not provide any documents detailing that certification.
The state fire marshal confirms there was no formal "fire watch" before, during or after the big game, but says firefighters were part of the emergency management team.
Since October, the ROC has been running up an alarming tab, paying firefighters to walk around the premises 24/7 to look for and report a possible fire. IFD charges $35 an hour or $840 a day.
That's more than $75,000 over the last three months.
Pervine says the agency is billing Carroll for at least $55,000 of that and will continue the "fire watch" until the alarm and fire protection systems are certified by an engineer or architect.
"It's the building owner's responsibility for the safety of that building," Pervine said.
But Carroll says the system inside the old Eastgate Mall is more than adequate. He says the retail space required a more stringent fire suppression system.
13 Investigates is also learning more about the 25-year lease, dated May 20, 2011. It was signed only by Carroll and former Public Safety Director Frank Straub.
Under the deal, the city is on the hook for $57,000 dollars in rent for 10 years, then $63,000 the remaining 15 years. The city must pay whether or not the landlord fails to complete construction obligations.
In all capital letters the agreement says, "ALL RISKS...ARE TO BE BORNE BY(THE) TENANT. IN THE EVENT OF ANY DEFECT OR DEFICIENCY...LANDLORD SHALL HAVE NO RESPONSIBILITY OR LIABILITY..."
Carroll declined to talk about the lease agreement or the cost of the "fire watch" at this time, because of the on-going efforts to deal with the code violations.
The new Assistant Public Safety Director, Valeria Washington, says her staff has not seen any FBI certification to this point. She says the city is working to get the fire suppression system completed and negotiating a settlement to deal with the construction issues at the ROC.