Maloof promises to correct violations

Owner George Maloof attributes the hefty list of code violations found at the Palms hotel to its popularity, not its age.

The Palms, which opened in 2001, has already undergone about six expansions, not counting the next-door Palms Place residential tower.

Maloof recently said his first reaction to the 661 violations found at the Palms during a county building inspection in late autumn, was, "We're all over it. ... It's a process. At the end of the day, we want to do what's right for our guests, and for our city. I think we are."

Applicable to the rapid pace of expansion at the Palms, county official Ron Lynn said it is not uncommon for construction work that has initially passed inspection to end up "degraded" in spots, where subsequent workers disturb good work that's already in place, to do their own installations.

Because the Palms had resolved only 27 violations by the start of January, it is impossible to surmise the full range of repairs needed. But two of its recurring violations are typical of most of the 17 other properties the county has inspected in its new program to monitor changes within existing buildings.

The Palms' first recurring code problem is unsealed penetrations in walls that are fire-rated. Such walls are installed along corridors that are emergency exit paths. The walls -- in order to contain fire -- also separate one guest room from its neighbors and compartmentalize a large building into smaller sections.

A wall's rating means the length of time its material can withstand flame, if properly installed. Smoke or fumes, which caused more deaths than flame did in the 1980 MGM Grand fire, can immediately pass through a wall with holes.

Holes that are punched in a rated wall to carry pipes or wiring need to be "caulked" afterward with a fire-resistant product. But sometimes the electrician or plumber neglects to restore the wall.

The Palms' second recurring violation is the presence of combustible materials above a suspended ceiling. Danger arises because there are no fire sprinklers in that concealed space, which is between the dropped ceiling and the concrete ceiling.

Two kinds of combustibles are frequently named on the violation lists for the various hotels, including the Palms. One is flammable debris left over from construction. The other is dry goods, such as paper cups or foam plates, stored overhead to clear floor space. Restaurant employees can be trained to eliminate the latter hazard.