Feedback: Watertown Looks To Public To Help Keep Buildings Safe

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More than 230 people died in a nightclub fire in Brazil. 

Now, in a letter to Watertown residents, the city codes office warns it could happen here.

"Just to remind people that stuff like this does happen and everybody needs to be on the lookout for it," said Shawn McWayne, code enforcement supervisor.

It's not just nightclubs.

The city has about 150 buildings defined as places of public assembly. 

The codes office inspects all of them once a year.

But is it enough? 

The letter urges the public to report unsafe conditions like blocked exits or overcrowding.

But the plea for help sounds a little strange to Watertown city firefighters.

They used to do fire inspections throughout the city before city hall made them stop.

"I do think it's kind of funny that they're asking city residents to keep themselves safe and they won't let the fire department help in that process," said Tim Wiley, president of Local 191, Watertown Firefighters.

It was last may the city manager ruled that firefighters lack any authority to inspect buildings or enforce codes. 

McWayne says the fire department was doing its own thing.

"They were doing what they were doing on their own. That didn't have anything to do with us," he said.

Despite the letter asking for the public's help, McWayne says his inspections are enough.

 

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Monday, April 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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