Fire safety inspections loom

Local businesses are being advised to prepare for building inspections by the Vanderhoof Fire Department.

Local businesses are being advised to prepare for building inspections by the Vanderhoof Fire Department.

More than 230 local businesses will be reviewed for safety compliance over the next several months as department officials conduct the semi-annual inspections in accordance with the B.C. Fire Code.

“We still have a ways to go before completing them all,” said Fire Chief Joe Pacheco, who is in charge of carrying out the inspections, on Friday, Nov. 30.

Pacheco will be assessing businesses to ensure that fire exits are unimpeded, emergency lighting is installed appropriately and fire extinguishers are being serviced once per year, among other things.

This year, the fire department is employing laptops and special computer software to aid inspections, but the Vanderhoof Fire Department is requesting that area businesses prepare in advance to further reduce inspection times.

A small shop, for instance, takes about one hour to walk through, but a grocery store could take up to four hours to complete, explained Pacheco.

“It makes it easier for us, when we come into your store, or your shop, and we do a quick walk around with you and you’ve already got the paperwork,” said Pacheco.

If documentation and service records aren’t available, or if deficiencies are noted at the time of the inspection, Pacheco must return to the business for a follow-up visit to ensure that orders are being complied with.

“Remember: you have a responsibility to keep your store safe,” said Pacheco.

As a result of the deadly mill explosions in Burns Lake and Prince George earlier this year, the fire department is working closer with area saw mills to prevent similar accidents from occurring.

Although saw mills employ their own personnel to conduct safety sweeps, Pacheco said a second set of eyes can sometimes help detect potential hazards that may go unnoticed.

“Our experiences so far have been nothing but total cooperation,” said Pacheco.

As winter sets in and pellet stoves and furnaces are being used more regularly, Pacheco is also asking homeowners to ensure their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly.

Pacheco also stressed the importance of maintaining chimneys, which can become clogged with creosote or even small animals, reverting carbon monoxide – a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that can suffocate a person without warning – back down into homes.

Logs infused with chemical additives are no substitute for old fashioned chimney sweeping, said Pacheco.

“Nothing works but elbow grease and a good scrubbing,” he said.

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