Fire Prevention & Building Inspections
The chief officer for the fire prevention division is the Fire Marshal. This position requires knowledge in all aspects of the department's responsibility including management, public relations, budget preparation, human resources and fire prevention duties. The Fire Marshal serves as the chief code official for the Township as well as the City of Dublin and oversees all types of inspections; plans review duties and resolves complex code related issues. The Fire Marshal also serves as a technical resource to departmental personnel, city officials and the public on matters of fire prevention.
The Fire Prevention Lieutenant and three fire safety inspectors are responsible for conducting fire inspections of more than 1,000 commercial buildings; investigating fires, and public fire and life safety education. Fire safety inspectors are considered the department's fire code experts and must be able to communicate technical requirements to building owners, architects, engineers, and the public.
Division members hold distinct national certifications through the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), International Code Council (ICC) and National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI). Washington Township also regulates all work associated with aboveground (AST's) and underground (UST's) storage tanks containing flammable or combustible liquids and hazardous chemicals. Delegated authority from the State Fire Marshal accomplishes UST permitting and its associated work locally. Washington Township is one of only forty departments in the state with this designation.
Fire Prevention Division inspectors conduct more than 2,000 fire inspections annually in Washington Township. These include installation of fire protection systems and new construction, ongoing compliance of existing commercial buildings, re-inspections of noted violations and home fire safety surveys.
Installation and new construction inspections ensure compliance with adopted codes and standards and help to address safety issues before a new building is occupied or a new fire protection system (fire alarm/sprinkler system) is placed in service. Washington Township works hand in hand with the Dublin Building Division in these types of inspections.
Ongoing compliance inspections are needed to ensure that the occupancy, fire protection systems, and hazards protection are intact in the more than 1,000 commercial buildings in Washington Township. These inspections ensure compliance with prior approvals, ordinances, resolutions and adopted codes and standards and provide an opportunity to educate the owners or occupants of a building about fire-safe behavior. Commercial inspections are typically done yearly or based on licensing requirements. Although the principle priority of safety is to the building occupant, inspections are also conducted to provide safe structures for firefighters and EMS personnel in emergencies.
Home fire safety surveys are conducted by Fire Prevention Division personnel upon request. These inspections include occupant fire escape planning and such practices such as Operation EDITH (exit drills in the home), smoke alarm installation and testing, storage practices, burn prevention, and heating and cooking fire safety. Requests for home adoption and foster home inspections for licensing purposes are part of the home fire safety surveys. Residents may also want to complete their own home fire safety survey.
The thorough investigation of fires is an integral part of the Washington Township Fire Department's commitment to public safety and fire prevention strategic plan. Fire investigations are focused on: 1) determining the origin of a fire, and 2) investigating cause.
Determining the cause of a fire is of major importance to the Fire Prevention Division. Analysis of the causes of fires in Washington Township is the basis for establishing fire prevention program priorities and providing fire safety information to the general public. As information is accumulated from fire investigations, data becomes available on which to base new fire prevention programs. Over time, these data will indicate fire trends in the township, and a fire prevention program can be implemented to tackle priority areas.
If inspectors determine that a fire was caused by arson or other unlawful burning of property, a full criminal investigation is initiated. The fire department determines the cause. If determined to be suspicious, investigations are conducted by the Dublin Police Department or Sheriff's Office or the Ohio Fire Marshal's office.
Copies of the Dublin and Washington Township Fire Prevention codes are available at the Dublin Library Reference Department and the Washington Township Administration and Training Center, 6200 Eiterman Road.
In April 2003, the City of Dublin adopted the 2000 edition of the International Fire Code. This model fire prevention code was also adopted by the Township Trustees within the unincorporated areas of Washington Township in March 2004. The International Fire Code addresses conditions hazardous to life and property from fire explosion; hazardous materials storage, handling or use, and the use; and occupancy of commercial buildings and premises.
The fire code
- sets criteria for inspecting the more than 1,000 public buildings in Washington Township for fire safety
- outlines general fire precautions including electrical violations and combustible storage practices in buildings
- establishes the proper maintenance and testing procedures for fire protection systems (fire alarm, sprinkler, fire extinguisher etc.) and maintenance of specific types of equipment, processes, hazards, and occupancies
- regulates permits to authorize the performance of a specific activity. The 46 permits outlined in the fire code range from restaurants to special event tents and allow the fire department to review and approve devices, safeguards, and procedures that may be needed to ensure the safe use of hazardous materials, operations, and special events.