CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – How safe are you from a fire if it starts in a Cleveland office building?
19 Surveys found that about half of the city’s commercial buildings are not up to fire code, at least when it comes to maintaining essential fire protection.
Fire alarms, sprinklers and fire doors can save lives.
But they are useless if they are not maintained.
They should be inspected regularly to ensure they are working properly.
Cleveland Fire Department officials said the problem is that business owners don’t have these systems checked often enough.
And fire inspectors are struggling to track thousands of commercial properties across the city.
At a public safety meeting last week, officials estimated that about half of Cleveland’s commercial buildings were not properly maintaining their fire protection systems, as required by law.
“We anticipate we are around 50% compliance,” Battalion Chief Gregory Lightcap said.
Lightcap said the fire department doesn’t have a database to track this.
They want to hire an outside company to build one and notify the companies when maintenance is due.
Lightcap said many cities using services like this have gone to over 90% compliance within a few years.
“So we would have a dashboard where we see those issues in red where we need to direct our energy to enforce the code because the unofficial stuff hasn’t worked up to this point,” Lightcap told members. of the city council. safety committee meeting.
Alarmed by what we discovered, we went to see Mike Polensek, president of the Public Safety Committeefor his perspective on it.
“There’s a reason we have a code, a basic fire and protection code. It’s for protection,” Polsensek said.
“As a citizen entering any building, is it a concern to know that it may not be up to date?” asked investigator Sara Goldenberg.
“Of course there is, because there is a code, a city code. And that’s been the problem is that it hasn’t been applied over the years. And now they’re telling us at the table that they don’t have the manpower, pure labor to inspect all these buildings,” Polensek said.
Polensek said he was unfortunately not surprised by these numbers.
He wants to see the city and the building owners intervene to solve the problem, quickly.
“Why was there no enforcement, why was no one prosecuted?” he said.
“And cited, and put in Housing Court if they refuse to make the repairs?” None of us can understand why it went so badly,” Polensek said.
Fire officials said the changes would better educate business owners about fire code safety, instead of inspectors simply issuing violation notices.
The city council is waiting to see the bill from the fire department.
Polensek said this will be discussed at public meetings.
We learned that there were between 20 and 25 fire inspectors in total in the city.
We contacted the Cleveland Fire Department for an interview about this, but they declined.
They also didn’t give us the cost of the fines companies face when they fail to maintain their fire protection systems.
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