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Fire inspections deal considered

Posted on October 14, 2022 by Maple Creek

MuniCode may be engaged to perform fire inspections within Maple Creek.
The company has provided a quote of $200 plus taxes per inspection. That cost would be borne by the property owner requesting an inspection.
Maple Creek Town Council, however, has held off from agreeing to engage the company until more information is available.
In particular, it wants to know what kind of costs a property owner could face after an initial inspection if deficiencies come to light.
The Town has not had an agreement for fire inspections for more than 18 months.
It parted ways with Swift Current’s Maltese Fire Inspections amid controversy over how inspections were being carried out.
In an October 7 report, Gillian LaBoucane, economic development officer, recommended that Council engage MuniCode.
“Since February 2021, the municipality has not had an agreement for fire inspection services. The purpose for engaging with MuniCode for fire inspections is to give access to a service the municipality does not currently have; this will allow for a property owner to make a request to the municipality in the event that the property owner requires a fire inspection for insurance, for licensing, etc. MuniCode has provided a quote of $200 plus GST per inspection. All requests for the service will be made through the municipal office.”
Speaking at Tuesday’s Council meeting, Barry Elliott, chief administrative officer, said he could appreciate that the subject of fire inspections was a “little sensitive” in the community.
“This is quite different,” he said, referring to the issue on the table.
Elliott said the Town administration had been approached by a local agency enquiring about fire inspections for insurance purposes.
“They asked if the Town has the resource to provide that kind of service. We do not. I confirmed that with Fire Chief (Blaine) Becker.
“So, I did reach out to MuniCode. They do, in fact, offer those services for those that wish to have them. At a cost, and we have identified that cost in LaBoucane’s report.
“So, this is really just to ensure that we have a capable, qualified agency that can perform fire inspections as requested. This is not something whereby the fire inspector will then be going to every business and every residence and doing inspections that, as I understand it, happened to an extent in the past. This is at the owner’s request, and only for the purposes that they need fire inspections for, to make sure we have a local resource that we can access.
“Any coordination of these services will be done through the town …”
Councillor Betty Abbott said it needed to be made clear that those requesting a fire inspection from MuniCode would cover the costs. It also should be emphasized that people were under no obligation to use MuniCode if they found another agency.
“That is absolutely correct,” said Elliott. “It is the individual’s choice.”
Councillor Tina Cresswell believed the $200 fee quoted seemed to be nominal and appropriate.
“Certainly, the costs that were assessed to businesses for fire inspections in the past were much higher,” she said.
Michelle McKenzie agreed with Councillor Cresswell’s point, but she asked what would happen if infractions were uncovered. What kind of costs would a property owner be facing then?
“Before I agree on this, I would like to know the true cost of what it is going to cost our ratepayers,” she said.
McKenzie said the report to Council was not complete enough for her to support it.
Councillor Len Barkman sought clarification on the Town’s involvement in fire inspections. He wondered if anything could come back on the Town.
“I’m not quite clear on that,” he said.
Elliott said nothing would come back on the Town. The agreement would be between MuniCode and the party requesting a fire inspection.
If deficiencies came to light, it would be incumbent on the property owner to address them.
“All we are doing is making sure people have access to that service,” said Elliott.
In response to a comment from Councillor Cresswell, Elliott said often in a municipality the fire department has trained, qualified fire inspectors. However, in Maple Creek this is not the case.
“So, to be honest, I don’t know why we are involved,” said Councillor Abbott.
She wondered whether it was wise to ask for requests for the service to be made through the municipal office.
McKenzie said the Town was governed by a bylaw under which the municipality was required to get fire inspections done.
Council agreed to table the issue.

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