By Sandi Latimer
Demands for work in the fire prevention bureau at the Jackson Township Fire Department are growing at a rate that the fire marshal is asking for help.
Scott Burris appeared before the township trustees at the Oct. 4 meeting, outlining what has taken place with his unit since he was appointed earlier this year, and what he anticipates in the coming years.
“We live in a community that is growing at a fast pace,” Burris said “We are not able to accomplish our goals with the current staffing.”
The department serves Jackson Township, Grove City and Urbancrest. Grove City has nearly doubled in size since 1990, and is one of the fastest growing central Ohio communities.
Fire prevention and education are the main goals of the bureau.
“In the course of any day, our bureau conducts fire prevention inspections, new construction inspections of residences and businesses, reviews building plans, does code enforcement, fire investigations, public education, and fire prevention training,” Burris said.
He also said state standards dictate businesses receive an annual inspection as well as schools, restaurants and hotels twice a year.
“We have a duty to educate and make sure our community is being compliant with the fire code,” Burris said. “We have a duty to make sure our residents entering our commercial buildings will be safe.
“Our prevention bureau works really hard with what we have,” he added. “As of now, we are not maintaining a minimum standard and if this practice continues, our community will suffer.”
So far this year, the bureau has performed 1,219 inspections, while 1,464 inspections were conducted in all of 2015. Public education has reached 3,769 people in the first nine months of the year.
With two hospitals on the building horizon in Grove City, Burris anticipates more work since each hospital has some 100 plans for review and inspection.
One task the department was unable to do this fall was get into the schools, especially since Fire Prevention Week falls in October. School officials said their presence would interfere with preparing for and taking of required tests.
One fire marshal and two inspectors make up the fire prevention bureau. Burris offered three options that the trustees will consider: three inspectors with two helping cover trucks; two inspectors full time; one inspector full time and three part-time inspectors.
Trustees also approved a proclamation declaring Oct. 9-15 as Fire Prevention Week and noted that the theme this year is replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
Burris said stickers will go on 10,000 pizza boxes this month reminding residents to check the date of their smoke detector and replace it if it is more than 10 years old.
In other business, township Administrator Mike Lilly brought trustees up-to-date on the fall clean-up day. He said 400 vehicles came out during the five-hour event. Of that number, 206 went to the Shred-It truck; and 136 to the E-waste area. In addition, 194 tires were collected.
Trustees have moved their next meeting, Oct. 18, to an afternoon meeting with caucus to begin at 12:45 p.m. and the meeting at 1:30 p.m.