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Self Inspection

More with Less or Just Plain Lazy

Have you ever considered implementing a self inspection program?

What about providing common violations before an inspection?

Lately there has been a lot of discussion on self-inspection programs and their place in the code enforcement business.  Typically these self-inspections are not conducted during construction or acceptance testing, rather they are utilized to educate and provide some ownership by the business owner for proper fire and life safety code requirements.

In a quick synopsis, here is how the system typically works.  The enforcing agency typically conducts inspections throughout the year at given properties.  Some locations may be inspected twice a year by staff, others every two or three years.  The department typically has many locations which have outstanding fire and life safety practices, or a bank with little history of fire loss.  These lower impact properties would typically have lower fire history, or low risk to the community.

These properties would be a key component to have the inspector visit every three years, and every year, the business owner would conduct a self-inspection.

When it comes to starting a self-inspection program the department must truly consider what is at hand.  Items that should be considered are:

  • What occupancies will utilize the program?
  • What training is necessary for inspectors and office staff?
  • Will the department conduct training for the business owners and key staff (What a great PR tool)?
  • How will we keep our forms and systems up to date?
  • How often will a self inspection be completed and when will an inspector visit the site?
  • What if the business does not complete the inspection?
  • How will the department ensure the desired goals are met during the program?

The program can roll out slowly as inspectors complete current inspection assignments at properties that will have self inspections completed.  Although I have seen a blitz attack by a community where the key business where invited to the department and the system was rolled out to the masses.  In either scenario, the inspector can take the time during the inspection to highlight key points and explain the importance of the system to the business.

It is critical to provide the business owner with the necessary information to complete the program.  Provide plenty of systems that can be implemented as well as up to date checklists based on occupancy type.  It is recommended that the forms are kept up to date on the department’s web-page so they business owner can always download the most current edition (as these will be continually updated).

Here are some resources to get you started, if you have your checklists you would like to see here, just drop us a note.  What are your opinions on the self inspection process?  Has your department had success with a similar program?


{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Arsnman4 April 5, 2010, 10:33 am

    In a department where the philosophy is to provide a more business friendly attraction and to create jurisdictional revenue like many in Michigan; I would expect to see more opportunities for this type system to be implemented. Our department has had the system in place since 2003 and due to limited manpower and existing and future budget cutbacks, the self-inspection process may just be the ticket and should not be viewed as a weakness in the overall scheme of code enforcement work. As the author suggests, it’s a great way to provide the business community with fire safety education and allow them to serve as a greater stake holder interest in the reduction of their own fire risk.

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