SAN FRANCISCO - Horrific fires like the Ghost Ship tragedy in Oakland have focused attention on potential fire code violations. In San Francisco, a recent inspection revealed a hazard that had been there for 15 years, so 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney helped get it removed.
You may not think a satellite TV dish could be a problem. But, it was blocking a fire escape at a seven story apartment building. Our viewer says he's been worrying about it for years. He came to me for help.
"The dish itself blocked the fire escape," Harry Campbell said.
It's hard enough for Campbell to climb onto his fire escape.
"I'd open the window like this," Campbell showed us.
He has to crawl out a little window. "These fire escapes are not for the faint of heart," Imagine how much harder it would be if a big satellite TV dish was propped in the window. A dish actually was bolted onto the window sill in Campbell's apartment. It extended out to the railing of the fire escape.
"Someone trying to get from there to here would have to go under the dish like this," Campbell said.
It blocked what was already a daunting escape route, down steep stairs, traffic rushing below, and possibly a fire chasing you from behind.
"It was beyond scary. It's been like having a powder keg outside your window."
He says DirecTV installed the dish over his objections. That was 15 years ago.
"He said that was the best place for installation. He came in, assessed it, put it there and he was gone," Campbell said.
Campbell says he kept asking DirecTV to move the dish onto the roof, but the company never responded. Luckily there was never a fire, but for years he worried.
"That sort of situation could lend itself to potentially tragic consequences," Campbell said.
Finally this year a fire marshal ordered the dish removed, but DirecTV said harry would have to pay $50 to relocate it, or more if the move was complicated. Harry didn't want to pay saying it was DirecTV's fault for putting it there in the first place.
"And the light bulb went on and I said to myself I have to call 7 On Your Side," Campbell said.
We contacted DirecTV, and its parent company AT&T responded, but would not say why DirecTV put the dish in the fire escape. "We were glad to resolve these issues and we apologize for any inconvenience," AT&T told us.
DirecTV did move the dish up to the roof at no charge to Harry.
"Seven On Your Side, I praise you. You are the bomb."
Harry says he hopes he never needs to use the fire escape, but he'll be able to climb out a little faster now. He can also see the skyline outside that window for the first time in 15 years.