NEWTON GROVE — After being faced with a dilemma about the responsibility of fire inspections, town officials decided to take on the mantle.
During a recent meeting, the Newton Grove Board of Commissioners made a decision to conduct their own examinations following a presentation from Fire Chief Lee Wilson. An alternative option was to leave it up to Sampson County officials and pay a fee for the work of making sure safety issues and fire prevention methods are addressed. The issue has been floating around in many towns around the county for quite some time.
“During our last meeting we were kind of favor of the fire department in town working together to take care of the fire inspections,” Wilson said.
The state mandates fire inspections on all businesses, which is on a schedule of one to three years, depending on the type of service. During a previous meeting, Wilson noted that the majority of locations in Newton Grove will fall under a three-year schedule. There will be some one- and two-year schedules also.
During a January meeting, county officials wanted to have an answer about what Newton Grove wanted to do for its fire inspections. Wilson and others formed a committee to make a recommendation. He reiterated that there was a consensus for the town to lead the way.
“The main thing is life, safety and property loss,” Wilson said. “The people in this room, the fire department .. we have the most invested in this town.”
Wilson added that it will help the fire fighters learn more about building layouts and contents. He believes this will come with better communication between the local inspectors and area businesses, instead of an outside agency.
“I don’t know how the county is going to do their inspections, but if we keep it her within the town and the fire department, we’ll have a better chance of educating the business owners about fire safety and code enforcement,” Wilson said.
Another matter was the collection process, which allows inspectors to leave invoices. The bills will have to be paid at Newton Grove’s town hall. It was noted that it could become a confusing process, if town employees are unaware about the inspection.
“Any revenue that it may bring in, keep it here in the town instead of going to the county,” Wilson said. “It will help the fire department with its insurance rate …”
After touching on some of the highlights, Commissioner Steve Jackson weighed in and brought up the timing of putting a decision into effect, which was originally scheduled for July 1, 2016.
“Even the county don’t know when they’re going to initiate it,” Wilson said. “They’re still trying to format their plan of what they want to do and when they want to do it and when they want to do it.”
Mayor Gerald Darden agrees with the decision of the committee about making inspections an in-house system instead of using an outside entity.
“If we keep it here, we may benefit from it,” Darden said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.