Firefighters Want Fire Inspection Authority Back
The Watertown firefighters union turned out in force for Monday's city council meeting.
They want lawmakers to understand just what the recent decision to stop allowing them to do fire inspections means.
"Without these fire inspections done yearly, public safety drops, knowledge base drops, ability to work safely and preserve public's life and property declines," said firefighter Tucker Wiley.
The change came last month in a letter from then-City Manager Mary Corriveau. It said under changes to the city code in 2005, the fire department did not have the authority to conduct official inspections or enforce any fire code violations.
Instead, it's the sole responsibility of the city's code department and two members of the fire prevention bureau.
"To not let us do our inspections and then not let us handle a call the way we should be able to handle a call from start to finish and not have to wait for somebody from code to come and say 'and you're going to do this,' well it's ridiculous," Wiley said.
And, firefighters say, it's dangerous too.
Wiley says the 2004 fire at Max's Outfitters is a prime example of why their inspections are so important.
They had inspected the building not long before, which is how they knew to send a crew to check a fire door on the third floor.
The door separated Max's outfitters from neighboring businesses.
"They shut the fire door, which basically saved Court Street. If it would have gotten going, gotten ahead of us, we would have lost it," Wiley said.
Wiley called on city lawmakers to sit down with the union and discuss the issue.
Firefighters want the law changed to give them back their previous inspection and enforcement authority.
Lawmakers would not comment.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013, Watertown, NY
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