H-AVILA BEACH

May 9, 2013 8:45 PM by Victoria Johnson

Local limo driver addresses safety concerns

With prom, graduation and wedding season upon us, business is booming for one local limo company; however, the recent fatal limo fire in San Francisco has some people questioning limo safety.

KSBY spoke with the Jim Kelsey, owner of Paradise Limousine Service, who says the fire was a rare occurrence. He thinks it will bring awareness to the safety surrounding limos.

"There's no other way out, no sunroof for them to pop out of and no door up front. That's where they found them. They found everyone up here huddled together," said Kelsey.

Five women were trapped and killed in a limo which caught fire on the San Mateo Bridge. The cause is still under investigation. Jim says he had never heard of a limo fire like that and says it's unfortunate that it takes an incident like this before something changes.

"My limo has a third door so that if there is an emergency, they can open this door and escape that way," he said.

The third door serves a greater purpose than convenience. Jim says it's always important to have an emergency plan in place.

"We have an emergency procedure plan similar to an airline. I do the same thing with the passengers," he said.

Pre-trip inspections and monthly visits to the mechanic are important to ensure passenger safety. For Jim, that is a top priority.

"I think you could easily adapt a limo with an emergency exit, weather you put a hatch up front. It wouldn't look great, but it wouldn't matter if you could save someone's life," he said.

Limos carrying less than ten passengers are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission. Limos with more passengers go through the CHP.

State lawmakers are now looking into limo safety. Jim's advice to passengers is to make sure a limo company is licensed through the state, is insured and goes through the proper inspections.

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