Calif. limousine fire spurring Atlanta carriers to make changes - CBS46 News

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Calif. limousine fire spurring Atlanta carriers to make changes

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

The deadly limousine fire in California earlier this month has caused at least one Atlanta-based limo company to make significant safety enhancements. 

Five women died on May 4 when the limousine they were riding in caught fire while it crossed San Francisco Bay. Four other women and the driver escaped.

Fred Rich, president of Cooper Global Chauffeured Transportation, said "when something like this happens, it makes the entire industry sit back and take a breath."

Since the incident, the Doraville-based company has ordered larger fire extinguishers and installed smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in every vehicle.

John Pearman, Global's chief operating officer, said he has also ordered window hammers to allow passengers to escape, if necessary. 

While California law enforcement officers haven't released the findings of their investigation into the limo fire, Pearman speculated that the women may not have been able to get out of the vehicle because the child safety lock were triggered.

In response, Global has removed child safety locks from all limousine doors to prevent the locks from being accidentally triggered.  

CBS Atlanta News has also learned that limousines are getting more scrutiny in Georgia, although it wasn't spurred by the incident in California.

On Jan 1, 2013, the Department of Public Safety implemented a new inspection program of all existing passenger carriers that are currently licensed. The inspection program will be an annual requirement, according to Captain Johnny Jones.  

Jones said early data from the new inspection program indicated that the re-implementation of the inspection program was "prudent and necessary." Inspectors found numerous mechanical and driver safety violations statewide, according to Jones.

Rich warned customers to stay away from unlicensed and unregulated limousine companies that often spring up around prom and wedding season.

The Department of Public Safety website includes a list of all licensed limousine providers.

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