Ohio Fire Chief Wants to Let Businesses Self-Inspect
BAY VILLAGE, OHIO, FIRE CHIEF Chris Lyons lost his only fire prevention officer last year due to budget cuts. He tried to make up for the lost work by doing commercial fire inspections himself, but it was too much of a burden.
Chief Lyons (BVFD photo)
Now he has approached the city council with a proposal to allow/require the town's businesses to self-inspect their properties and promise that everything wrong was identified and then taken care of.
The Sun News reports:
"In lieu of having a fire inspector, this is my next best option," Lyons said. Other communities have gone to this type of self-inspection program, he said.
Lyons said his goal is to develop a self-inspection document that will be given to commercial property owners and tenants.
"They will assume the responsibility for doing their own fire safety inspections with the guidance of the document," Lyons said. "It’s their responsibility to testify to the fire department on an annual basis that they do indeed meet the requirements of the Ohio Fire Code."
When asked by the city council president how schools and other government facilities will be inspected, Chief Lyons said those would be conducted by a state fire marshal. The schools have already started this, but they were surprised when an invoice charging them for the inspections was delivered.
The city council seems to be a little dubious about the reliability of this plan. In a separate article, the Sun News wrote about a similar scheme that was tried out by the city of Sandusky:
Sandusky tried a self-inspection program for small businesses several years ago, but ended up abandoning the program. That city, about 50 miles to the west, has gone back to sending out fire department inspectors to do the work.
Similar to Bay Village’s proposal, the fire department provided businesses with a check-off sheet on which they were to document that fire code requirements were being met. The businesses then submitted the forms to the fire department.
At first, the department thought the program was going well. Just about all the businesses allowed to use the self-inspection program were submitting the proper forms by the second year, Ruiz said.
The problems surfaced during the fourth year of the program, when Sandusky fire inspectors followed up with in-person inspections.
"What we found was, they weren’t really as compliant as they said they were," he said.
Chief Lyons will return to the council for a committee hearing on his proposal on April 8.
Bay Village FD photo
Firegeezer comments: Hundreds of fire departments conduct inspections with their in-service engine and truck companies. Until they hired a crew of civilian fire inspectors to do the job, my own department did this. Each station was responsible for all the commercial and apartment inspections in their own first-due and we had authority to issue notices of violation. We loved doing it because it got us into the occupancies in our territory to see what was out there, etc. I am wondering why that isn't being considered in Bay Village?
Bay Village has a population of about 16,000 and is served by a 27-member FD that operates out of one station. Their website is HERE.
Update: Our own web browser Mark D. has gleaned the following piece of information from the BVFD website filed under the Employment Information page. Under the listing of all the expected jobs and duties of a firefighter for the city, these are two of the duties:
* Assisting in code compliance and enforcement activities, including In-Company Inspections;
* Assisting in fire prevention and life safety inspections when the Bureau of Fire Prevention is unavailable;
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