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Audit Prompts Changes To Help Houston Fire Department’s Building Inspectors

The Houston Fire Department is working with a consultant to develop a risk-based inspection program. It’s one of the changes the department is making in response to an audit, which uncovered inadequate record keeping and building inspections that are behind schedule.

The Houston Controller last week released an audit of the Houston Fire Department’s Life Safety Bureau, which inspects buildings. City Controller Chris Brown told “Houston Matters” that, as an example, only 526 of Houston’s more than 5,000 apartment buildings were inspected in the last two years — well below the bureau’s goal of 470 apartment inspections per month.

“It could have been that they have inspected more of these units. They don’t have records that are accurately reflecting that they had, in fact. There were records that were found on older databases, in logs and even in notepads in the various inspectors’ desks.”

New Fire Chief Samuel Pena is already implementing changes, and says he wants to improve the bureau’s database.

“We’re not able to share information between departments to refine our risk-based approach. If the Department of Health has cited a particular company because their range hood extinguishing system is clogged with grease, that’s important for us because that could present a fire hazard.”

Pena says a consultant is helping develop a risk-based inspection program. It would prioritize buildings that need more frequent inspections, such as petroleum or chemical companies, schools and day cares and so on.

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Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

News Anchor

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with much of his early career as a rock’n’roll disc jockey. He worked as part of a morning show team on album rock station KLBJ-FM, and later co-hosted a morning show at adult rock station KGSR, both in Austin. Ed also conducted...

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