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Fire inspection program gets green light in Monticello

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Monticello businesses will soon be subject to regular fire inspections.

The Monticello City Council on Monday, July 27, approved a fire inspection policy.

Under the policy, the City’s fire marshal will inspect Monticello businesses to ensure that they are operating safely when it comes safety and fire prevention measures.

Many businesses could be subject to inspections just every five years, Monticello Fire Marshal Dan Klein told members of the Monticello City Council at their bi-monthly meeting on July 27.

Other businesses, with a high amount of combustible materials on hand, could see annual inspections. So would businesses that have more than 50 people on its premises, such as large manufacturing businesses. Hotels are also subject to annual inspections. The policy approved by the City Council has five levels that regulate the frequency of inspections, Klein said.

In a presentation to the City Council, Klein said the inspection program is necessary to ensure the safety of people and businesses in the city of Monticello.

Commercial fire inspections lapsed in 2015, Klein said. Prior to 2015, the inspections that were made were done on a random basis, he said.

Having a fire inspection policy will ensure a regular schedule for inspections and will result in good records of the inspections being conducted, Klein said.

Klein noted that the city inspection program has been robust since he was hired about two years ago. He has actively been inspecting common areas of apartment complexes, has followed up on complaints of non-compliance with safety regulations, he reviews permit applications for fire sprinkler systems, has reviewed sprinkler systems for commercial and multi-family residences, and has performed final tests on approved and installed sprinkler systems.

With the new Chelsea Avenue fire station completed, it is time for efforts to be concentrated on a fire inspection program.

The City is implementing a policy and not an ordinance, in part, because the program is deemed to be more focused on education than enforcement, Klein said.

The city is not charging businesses for the inspections. Nor is it planning to fine businesses that are non-compliant with aspects of the city fire code.

The goal of the fire inspection program, Klein told the City Council, is to have a solid policy that’s fair to all business owners. to implement a systematic schedule so every occupancy is inspected at least

every five years, to have technology that allows the fire marshal to focus more time on inspections and less on administrative tasks associated with inspections, to have inspections based on education and safety vs. enforcement and to create pre-plans for all locations during the process.

Members of the City Council also asked that the Monticello business community be given checklists so they will, one, know what the fire marshal is looking for during an inspection, and two, serve as a guide for businesses to create a more safe working environment in the time prior to the fire marshal’s visit, which could be from one to five years out.

The fire inspection policy has been approved, but the time line for its implementation is still in flux.

The scheduling of fire inspections will be dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the comfort level of both inspectors entering businesses and businesses’ comfort level in having people entering their facilities, Klein said.

Klein also added that he would like to promote the inspection program to businesses through a partnership with the local chamber of commerce.

Reach Jeff Hage at jeff.hage@ecm-inc.com

Editor

Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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