SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — The Phat Panda marijuana grow facilities in Spokane Valley received an "unsatisfactory" rating on a 2018 fire inspection due to several fire code violations.
Phat Panda made headlines on Sept. 14 after 80 employees had to be evacuated due to a fire. No one was injured and SVFD said the business would be able to continue to operate without closing.
Phat Panda, which is owned by and referred to as Grow Op Farms in the inspections, had at least nine issues listed by the Spokane Valley Fire Department during inspections carried out on March 5, 2018.
Violations included a sprinkler being too close to a wall and being behind an electrical conduit, missing electric panels and improperly using extension cords in place of permanent wiring, according to inspection records.
KREM attempted to reach Grow Op Farms via phone and email multiple times but has not heard back at the time of publication.
KREM requested all inspections and fire reports at the Phat Panda/Grow Op Farms facilities in the last three years. SVFD said it could not confirm if changes had been made to remedy the issues at Grow Op Farms.
"Any violations noted from the previous year may have been corrected since the time of inspection; however, Spokane Valley Fire has not been notified of those corrections. We verify deficiencies and violation corrections during the subsequent 2019 annual inspection," SVFD Deputy Fire Marshal Casey Parr said in an email to KREM.
The 2018 report was the most recent inspection included in the request.
Grow Op Farms was cited for electrical-related issues in the 2018 inspection. One electrical use rule, which bans extension cords from being used in place of permanent wiring, was violated in at least two separate ways in the inspection records.
One incorrect extension cord use, which was listed on two different records from the inspection, said Grow Op Farms needed to "discontinue using extension cords to supply power to the ventilation fans and Wi-Fi extenders installed in the hallways."
Another issue cited relating to the use of extension cords in the inspection was that Grow Op Farms needed to stop using an extension cord to power a break room washing machine.
The other electrical code that the facilities received an unsatisfactory grade on was a rule stating that open service panels, junction boxes, switches and receptacles must have approved covers, according to the inspection records.
There are two different mentions of this being violated at the Phat Panda/Grow Op Farms facilities in the records. One inspection record said the company needed to "install cover plates on all open electrical junction boxes, including by red panel 5."
The other includes a receptacle behind a break room refrigerator not being covered.
Sprinklers also were cited as having three different issues at the facilities during the inspection.
The first issue mentioned was a sprinkler that was "too close to [the] wall and obstructed by [an] electrical conduit," according to the inspection records. Sprinkler heads are required to be at least four inches away from a wall and not blocked by other objects.
The next issue listed involved a certain type of sprinkler setup in a vault room, which the SVFD said needed to be oriented differently or replaced with an upright type of sprinkler.
The other issue listed in the inspection records involving sprinklers in the grow facilities was inadequate sprinkler covered in a vault room. The inspection records said there was only one sprinkler present in the vault room and it did not "protect the room with the installed solid shelving."
Other issues found in the inspection
Exit signs, building address signs and a "Knox box" were the other areas which proved to be issues for the company during its 2018 inspection.
Not all exit signs, including backup lights were properly illuminated, according to the inspection notes. Also, exit pathway lights weren't ensured to have working backups.
The facility also had failed to post its building address on its east wall and on or near the south end of the building in a way that was clearly visible, according to the records.
Lastly, Grow Op Farms was given an unsatisfactory rating in its usage of a "Knox box." These boxes, according to the records, provide firefighters with a way to gain quick access to buildings.
SVFD said that the company needed to "remount the existing Knox box outside of the secured entrance to Suite B so it is accessible to the fire department," suggesting that the box was located behind a normally locked door.
SVFD also said that the fire department needed to be provided keys or access cards to be placed inside the Knox box for firefighters to use.
It is unknown how many smoke detectors or alarms are in use inside the Phat Panda/Grow Op Farms facilities, or if any are in use. An SVFD spokesperson said the company isn't required to use smoke alarms if it has a sprinkler system due to International Fire Code regulations.
The report from the Sept. 14 fire at Phat Panda said the automatic fire sprinkler activation was confined to the room the fire occurred in. There is no mention of audible alarms.
The fire caused approximated $300 in damage, according to the report, and was classified as an accident that occurred due to a "HID bulb that malfunctioned and exploded dropping hot molten metal onto the polyethylene material below."
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