Lakewood OH

Fire union believes self-inspection, outsourcing Bay fire inspector duties a bad idea

By Jeff Gallatin

Bay Village

Bay Village’s fire union president believes having businesses do self-inspections or outsourcing department fire inspection duties would be bad for the city.

With City Council leaving open in the recently passed 2014 budget the fire inspector’s position, Mayor Debbie Sutherland and fire Chief Chris Lyons are currently considering information as to whether having city businesses do self-inspections would be an avenue the city can take.

Sutherland has indicated her interest.

“In the present situation, we’re leaning toward trying that,” she said. “If it doesn’t work we can always try something else.”

However, Brandon Dimacchia, head of the fire union, said Friday such a move would not be providing good services for the city.

“One of the reasons people move to Bay Village is for the quality of services they receive,” he said. “I don’t think self-inspections are an appealing advertisement of services.”

Dimacchia said people should be able to run their businesses without worrying about inspections.

“Bay Village business owners should be concentrating on operating their successful enterprises rather than learning the Ohio fire code,” he said. “That should be the job of the fire department, as it has been for roughly 40 years.”

Sutherland has cited as another possibility using SAFEbuilt, the Colorado firm the city recently approved for outsourcing its building department, to do fire inspections as well, starting in May.

“They have the capability to do that,” she said.

Mike Young, chairman of City Council’s Finance Committee, said the city needs to find some economical means of getting the inspections done.

“I’m waiting for a final report from the fire chief before I make a decision on how I feel about utilizing the self-inspection program for the city,” he said. “If we don’t do that, we can look at SAFEbuilt or other options.”

Young said council believes the fire inspection work for businesses doesn’t require a full-time position in a city the size of Bay Village.

“I believe there are 39 businesses in the city which require that,” he said. “I don’t think you need a full-time person to be able to get that done. It’s something the department should be able to do.”

Sutherland, Lyons and Dimacchia all have said having firefighters on shift do inspections would hamper fire response time, as well as be inconvenient for the businesses.

“If there is a call, they should be in a position to respond as quickly as possible,” Sutherland said.

“If we get called out while we’re on an inspection, it’s tough for the business,” Dimacchia said. “We don’t want to put the businesses in the position of having to have us come several times if we keep getting called away. Are they supposed to drop what they’re doing each time to take care of us as we come back?”

Young said Bay Village’s relatively unique setup should make it easier for firefighters to handle inspections if need be.

“Most of the businesses are located towards the center of the city,” he said. “If they go with their gear, they should be able to respond fairly quickly and meet the other members at the scene.”

All the officials acknowledged that the fire inspection duties are part of the current contract negotiations going on between the administration and firefighters union. Because of the ongoing nature of the negotiations, both Sutherland and Dimacchia declined to cite specifics, but when asked, Dimacchia said the status of the fire inspection duties is important to the union.

“It is a priority to us, but I’m not sure it is to City Council,” he said.




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