MOUNT VERNON — These are “very exciting times at the firehouse,” Assistant Fire Chief Chris Menapace told council members as he updated them on fire inspections which took place in 2008.
According to Menapace, the department did 1,259 inspections last year, compared to 291 in 2007. In 2004, 121 inspections were done.
“We are out there,” he said. “We have allotted quite a bit of time [to the inspections].”
Of the 1,259 inspections, 912 were at business or mercantile establishments. Educational institutions accounted for 64, assembly locations, 159, and 131 fell into the miscellaneous category. Inspections include businesses, churches, restaurants and schools. Menapace pointed out that although Mount Vernon Nazarene University counted as one inspection, 28 buildings were inspected.
The department has 15 certified inspectors, up from six in 2006. By March, he said, the department will have 18. The cost is a little under $1,000 to educate each inspector.
“We’ve been able to work that into the budget, and have also sequestered grant money,” said Menapace.
He anticipates the department will do 1,400 inspections in 2009, and has set aside 1,100 man hours in order to do so. There is no charge for an inspection.
“We intend for this bureau to thrive and produce some money, but right now, there is no charge for inspections,” he said.
Menapace said inspectors take into account the age of many of the buildings in the fire district, and will work with property owners when violations are found.
Menapace said the most common violations found are:
•Exit and emergency light maintenance.
•Blocked or held open fire doors.
•Misuse of extension cords.
•Lack of fire extinguishers.