Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Safety Stop

Not the kind of thing you want on your front display window


Building Commissioner Rob Morra issued a prominent "stop work" order to the owner of "Oriental Flavor" in the heart of downtown Amherst for having unauthorized personnel perform gas and plumbing work.

 Oriental Flavor:  Opening on hold

According to Commissioner Morra:

"The job was stopped because plumbing and gas installation had proceeded without the required inspections.  The plumbing contractor that was hired for the project and who secured the necessary permits did not perform any of the work and was unwilling to take over the job that was done by others.  In order for the work to continue the business owner must hire a licensed contractor to make correction, complete inspections with this office and finish the work.  We found several issues and violations with the work that was completed by an unlicensed individual."

Some of you may remember the 2005 pernicious basement fire at the old Plumbley's Building adjacent to the Boltwood Walk Parking Garage.

The leading contender for fire causation?

Faulty wiring installed by a handyman rather than licensed electrician for the heavy-duty commercial equipment associated with a tanning salon that Gold's Gym was preparing to open.

The fire pretty much put La Cucina Di Pinocchio's restaurant out of business.


Cooper Mine tanning salon: never opened for businessSold 7/1/11 $190,000

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

From what I heard (2nd hand from the owner), the town had been dragging its heals to inspect the business. They pay something like $5,000 a month for the space and have been waiting over 7 months for an inspection. But that's just what I heard.

I used to work for Pete Earle and his partner at Gold's Gym. I remember when this happened. They were installing tanning beds in back. Pete used to regularly go there and work on the place. I don't know who did the installation, but it was probably Pete. He had certain skills and a lot of confidence. I wouldn't be surprised if it was him.

I see it's still there. Do you know if anyone is using the space now?

Adam Sweet said...

oops meant to sign that last comment with my real name: Adam Sweet

Anonymous said...

Only two weeks late on this. This has been hanging in the window since the 24th.

Larry Kelley said...

Just went up and looked in the window.

The little sign you can see in my photo from last year is still there and says, "This building MUST NOT be occupied until a Certificate of Occupancy has been obtained from a building official."

So no, nothing much going on with it.

Larry Kelley said...

Tell that to the Gazette.

Anonymous said...

any news for the Metacomet Cafe next door? When opening? What type of cuisine?

Dr. Ed said...

ualignmiThere is *so* much of this, much of it far worse than just "unlicensed" that I wonder why here, why now?

Do you know how many Gas Company "Red Tags" (do not use this appliance/service) I found - on water heaters and furnaces currently in use? (Including the majority of units at a left-of-center coop associated with a certain state politician whose spouse was then a UM employee.)

Do you know how few of the yellow approval stickers that the Amherst inspector affixes to inspected gas appliances I found? (Less, but I had to pick my fights...)

Much of Amherst (including both Southpoint & Boulders, amongst others) was built during the two years in the '70s when aluminum wire (still used today for thicker & higher voltage cables) was used for household wiring. Let's just say that there are reasons why it got banned 2 years later -- and any wiring gets problematic in places 40 years later (i.e. now).

The worst I found was the ground (not neutral but *ground*) being used as the hot with the outlet then grounded to what essentially was a radiator. While unsafe and way outside code, it actually worked until the tenant tried to use it for an Air Conditioner...

I was told that after a thunderstorm, the maintenance guys (not licensed electricians, but repairing the electrical wiring) would go bang on walls and when the wiring started working again, or the light bulb would at least blink, know they had found the fault and sorta repair it there.

I didn't want to ask one question: If the mere induction from lightning was causing problems, exactly how bad is the rest of the wiring in the wall?

And remember that places I wouldn't pass (or which people knew I wouldn't pass) were rented instead to UM students. At a party one night, at a student rental, I noticed that what I thought was the staircase railing (and used as such) was actually a copper tubing that I quickly determined to be part of the (in use) gas service. I am not making this up.

It is that bad. So why make a fuss about merely unlicensed folks? I see it as a cop checking to see if a driver's license is expired while dodging drunk drivers -- sure it is legitimate to do it, but shouldn't your first priority be the driver on the wrong side of the road, and not the one who neglected to pay a parking ticket?irkeent House

Anonymous said...

I've noticed the Metacomet Cafe sign next door, but have heard nothing about it. Any info? Richard Marsh.

Anonymous said...

Ed, can I get you to comment on the Southpoint situation?

Am I right to assume that the cops were called about the bullet flying through the wall from an adjacent apartment?

Anonymous said...

You might want to ask him how many years, or decades, it's been since he had anything to do with the apartments. Short lived and long ago.

Walter Graff said...

"Do you know how many Gas Company "Red Tags" I found "

How many?

"Do you know how few of the yellow approval stickers that the Amherst inspector affixes to inspected gas appliances I found? "

Few as most all of the permits applied for by licensed gas installers are not actually confirmed via town inspector.


"Let's just say that there are reasons why it got banned 2 years later"

Aluminum was in residential use for 10 years and banned because it expanded too much causing places where it joined other conductors to come loose and that could potentially arc. It is still the choice for transmission lines due to cost and weight, and it is joined to other wiring in that use differently than household aluminum was.


"The worst I found was the ground (not neutral but *ground*) being used as the hot with the outlet then grounded to what essentially was a radiator."

Except you cant use a neutral as a "hot" by itself. The neutral and ground have no current flow between them. You can wire a neutral colored wire as a hot to a box and use it as such as long as it is labeled . Attaching a ground to a radiator is not legal.

"I was told that after a thunderstorm, the maintenance guys (not licensed electricians, but repairing the electrical wiring) would go bang on walls and when the wiring started working again, or the light bulb would at least blink, know they had found the fault and sorta repair it there."

No different than what a licensed electrician might do in a situation where there is fault.

"If the mere induction from lightning was causing problems, exactly how bad is the rest of the wiring in the wall?"

I doubt lighting had anything to do with the problem but makes a good old wives tale.

In my travels to homes all over the pioneer valley I find all sorts of strange things, and believe it or not many poorly done and sometimes illegal things by licensed electricians and plumbers. Seems the trade isn't what it used to be.

"So why make a fuss about merely unlicensed folks?"

Exactly. Last week I found a number of outlets wired backwards at one home and another that had no grounding on a number of outlets, work done by licensed electricians.

"I see it as a cop checking to see if a driver's license is expired while dodging drunk drivers -- sure it is legitimate to do it, but shouldn't your first priority be the driver on the wrong side of the road, and not the one who neglected to pay a parking ticket?"

No, your job as a police officer is to uphold all laws. Should he ignore your violation and only look for drunk drivers? The old excuse of asking why you are giving me a ticket for a light out when people are robbing houses is no excuse and frankly when you hear it, you pretty much will look for more violations on a vehicle instead of just issuing a warning.

Walter Graff said...

Frankly I couldn't understand how a tanning place could work in a town like Amherst. Sort of like a Bar Mitzvah where the kids wear a crucifix.

Dr. Ed said...

Ed, can I get you to comment on the Southpoint situation?

1: The bullet-through-wall incident did not occur in Southpoint. I don't think it appropriate to say where it did happen beyond what is implied in #2.

2: The APD recovered the round. Q.E.D....

He**, ask the APD Chief. He wasn't Chief at the time, but I believe he was on the force and ask him this when he is asking for more money for more officers or something and he might tell you all the sordid details. Maybe.

Anonymous said...

Are you joking Walter Graff? The hottest market for tanning salons are northern college towns full of pale-skinned students eager for that spring-break ready tan.

Dr. Ed said...

Response to Walter Graff:

How many red tags?

As a person who thought that the red tag meant "thou shalt not use this", enough to really get my attention.

Aluminum was in residential use for 10 years

I am neither a licensed electrician nor was an adult in the 1970's, but those who were/are both -- multiple people -- have told me that Massachusetts allowed it for TWO years -- at a time when "we couldn't even get copper" -- "not that it was expensive, but we couldn't even get it."

If people who were licensed electricians at the time -- and who still are -- tell me this is what happened, I am inclined to believe them, particularly when they had no reason to lie to me...

Except you cant use a neutral as a "hot" by itself.

Sure you can -- it actually is a great test to see if a lightning rod actually is driven down far enough to find a "good ground" -- with one lead of a pigtail containing a 100 watt light bulb connected to a "hot" wire, touch the other to the grounding rod. It should light.

More than a century ago, 1905 to be exact, the railroad was telling stationmasters that if the telegraph failed, they could ground (via telegraph indicator) directly to a rail and get the message that way.

Remember that all you need is a hot wire and some path to ground for a circuit to work. The reason why you get electrocuted is that YOU become the path between the hot and ground -- the bird on the 8700 volt uninsulated WMECO primary doesn't get electrocuted because there is no path to ground through the bird.

You can wire a neutral colored wire as a hot to a box and use it as such as long as it is labeled.

Not as I understand the National Fire Protection folks. The only exception is in the wiring of traffic light systems where folk want to use the green as the hot for the green light (makes sense, doesn't it?) and that got allowed eventually, although reluctantly.

But a bare conductor, insulated only with a fold of cardboard, as the HOT? Are you serious????

No different than what a licensed electrician might do in a situation where there is fault.

An ethical electrician would insist on replacing all the Romex and all the receptacles attached thereto.

I doubt lighting had anything to do with the problem but makes a good old wives tale.

I had trouble believing this -- but the people telling me had no reason to lie -- and, in theory, it is possible.

Dr. Ed said...

Part Two:

In my travels to homes all over the pioneer valley I find all sorts of strange things

I did too -- including a disconnected but not capped gas service that the gas company was quite happy to IMMEDIATELY address when I told them about it. And I stumbled across more than a few meter violations as well. But the Amherst rentals have a lot of things to be concerned about -- and I really didn't (don't) care who did it.

No, your job as a police officer is to uphold all laws. Should he ignore your violation and only look for drunk drivers?

It's called "triage" -- in responding to a car crash, if they treat the sprained ankle while ignoring the broken ribs and open chest wound -- and that person dies -- they are going to get sued. My reading of the Ware case (landmark precedent for OUI liability for police in Massachusetts) is that if an officer knowingly permits a drunk driver to continue on the road and he/she/it kills someone, the officer is liable.

OK, an officer jumps out of the way of a drunk driver while investigating the license status of a known sober one? Care to defend that one should the drunk driver then kill someone? (Particularly when the officer could instead check the license status later and mail a summons to the sober driver?)

Or take the AFD -- say you have a house fire and some UM kids with a campfire -- and one fire truck -- which do you put out first? Not that you go extinguish both, but which do you do FIRST?

If your house were burning down, and the fire truck bypassed your house to put out a campfire, exactly what do you think you would say about that?

Anonymous said...

Between Wally and Ed, there is enough sound electrical knowledge to keep AFD in overtime for years. You idiots ought to really stick to the BS on other topics. The shit youre selling on electrical is downright dangerous. Please crawl back under your rocks, for the public's sake.

Walter Graff said...

"Are you joking Walter Graff? The hottest market for tanning salons are northern college towns full of pale-skinned students eager for that spring-break ready tan."

Guess that is why this one is not in business. As for hottest market, one look at Google maps for tanning salons in the area might show that statement to be inaccurate.

Walter Graff said...

"I am neither a licensed electrician nor was an adult in the 1970's, but those who were/are both -- multiple people -- have told me that Massachusetts allowed it for TWO years -- at a time when "we couldn't even get copper" -- "not that it was expensive, but we couldn't even get it."

I was licensed in NY and not old enough to know but do recall that nationally aluminum was allowed for ten years. Problem was aluminum expanded too much with heat. So when you connected it to other types of metal, it expanded causing the connectors to get lose and you had arcing potential. They even made a special aluminum connector for electrical systems but by that time they realized it was not the way to go.


"Sure you can -- it actually is a great test to see if a lightning rod actually is driven down far enough to find a "good ground"

It's done properly with a meter specifically designed to test earth ground. Lighting a lamp with such a circuit does not tell you if a ground is acceptable.


"More than a century ago, 1905 to be exact, the railroad was telling stationmasters that if the telegraph failed, they could ground (via telegraph indicator) directly to a rail and get the message that way."

That and a Metrocard will get you on the subway. This useless information is for what? A track is a continuous conductor and is earth grounded. Your point?


"Not as I understand the National Fire Protection folks. The only exception is in the wiring of traffic light systems where folk want to use the green as the hot for the green light (makes sense, doesn't it?) and that got allowed eventually, although reluctantly."

Clearly this point was out of your understanding.



"An ethical electrician would insist on replacing all the Romex and all the receptacles attached thereto."

That becomes another question.


"It's called "triage" -- in responding to a car crash, if they treat the sprained ankle while ignoring the broken ribs and open chest wound -- and that person dies -- they are going to get sued... "

All cute theories Ed. Unfortunately you have not worked for either a police department nor a fire department and don't know how it is dealt with in the real world.

Walter Graff said...

Thanks for the tip anonyass

Anonymous said...

Wally, you made one true statement. You are definately not a licensed electrician. The more you spew, the dumber you sound. When will self-serving fools like you ever learn. Stick to making fantasy for idiots like yourself. Stay out of trades you are not qualified to comment on. I have an electricians license, butthead. Also take your twin Ed with you.

Anonymous said...

A quick google search reveals 17 places to get a booth tan within 10 miles of UMass... and that's just what I found in about 3 minutes.

Wally must not notice the legions of young orange women in this town, and clearly has problems figuring out how to use this new-fangled google thing as well.