Redwood City City Manager Bob Bell has written a letter telling a metal recycling plant where two acrid fires broke out in the past couple of months to staff more people around the clock and allow inspections.

Bell wrote a letter Thursday demanding the changes. City officials met with representatives of SIMS Metal Management the day before to discuss an early Tuesday morning fire that stunk up the Peninsula and South Bay's air. SIMS Metal operates on city-owned property on Seaport Boulevard near the Port of Redwood City.

"Although still under investigation, SIMS lacked 24/7 staffing onsite and that impacted SIMS' ability to have trained personnel to operate machinery needed to move combustible material," Bell wrote Jim Banigan, the facilities manager of SIMS' Redwood City plant. "An onsite guard is not sufficient."

Bell told Banigan the city wants the company to agree to certain terms for the next 60 days or longer "in order for SIMS to remain operating in Redwood City" while the cause of the fire is investigated and operational changes identified.

During that period, Bell said the company must staff "three qualified operators" at the facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week; provide Redwood City with the qualifications of all operators, contractors and subcontractors at the facility upon request; and give the city an immediate report when there is a "hazardous condition, fire, industrial injury or illness."

The city also reserves the right to extend those conditions, according to the letter.

"During this period it cannot be business as usual at SIMS," wrote Bell, who could not be reached for comment Friday.

Redwood City spokeswoman Sheri Costa-Batis said the city can close the plant if it poses a public safety risk.

Although SIMS leases the property from the city, Costa-Batis noted that "whether it's city property or not, it's within the city's police power to say, 'you're a danger to the community and we're shutting you down.'"

SIMS officials submitted a response letter to the city Friday afternoon, but neither they nor Costa-Batis would provide a copy to The Daily News.

Jill Rodby, the Northern California spokesman for SIMS, said in an email Friday that the company "seeks to comply with requests made by the City especially when the City is seeking to ensure public safety."

She said SIMS maintains "a full complement of qualified" workers during operating hours. When the fire broke out at about 12:50 a.m. during "non-operating hours," only a security guard was at the site, she said.

The blaze started in a pile of recyclable light iron material and was brought under control at about 9:45 a.m., according to the Redwood City Fire Department. Residents in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties reported smelling fumes from the fire throughout the day, however.

A similar fire started in scrap metal last month and the Bay Area Air Quality District issued a public nuisance citation to SIMS over that incident.

In a letter to Bell following the meeting between city and SIMS officials, Banigan said the company has taken "steps in response to the November fire, but it is apparent that even further steps are needed."

Among measures to reduce fire risk, the company is minimizing the amount of pre-processed scrap materials it stores at the facility, Rodby said.

Email Bonnie Eslinger at beslinger@dailynewsgroup.com; follow her at twitter.com/bonnieeslinger.