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Marco Island Gets Fire Inspector in 2004

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  • Marco Island Gets Fire Inspector in 2004

    City officials to add new fire inspector in 2004 fiscal budget

    Wednesday, June 25, 2003

    By BILLY BRUCE, Staff Writer

    A recent Marco Island fiscal 2004 budget workshop produced a surprising revelation to most City Council members: City fire department officials have been so overloaded with finishing inspections on new construction that they haven't been able to complete routine annual fire safety inspections at existing buildings.

    At a June 18 budget and capital improvements workshop, the somewhat stunned council members agreed with Fire Chief Mike Murphy's recommendation to fund a salary for a full-time fire inspector in next year's budget.

    "That came as a surprise to all of us," Councilman Heyward Boyce said June 23.

    "This is maybe the most important thing in the budget," Vice Chairman Glenn Tucker said during the workshop.

    The council directed Murphy to include the new position in his department budget. Murphy said June 23 that city Fire Marshal John Burback and Ray Munyon, the fire department's building plans examiner, have not been able to keep pace with the annual inspections that assure that existing structures don't have safety violations that could lead to structure fires.

    That's because new high-rise condominium construction and other construction that has escalated during the past three years on Marco demand the inspectors' immediate attention. Builders can't get certificates of occupancy until the inspectors have cleared each phase of the construction for safety compliance, Murphy said.

    "The inspections needed for new high rise and multi-residential constructions involve all the site plans included in the project, plus the phase-by-phase on-site reviews associated with those plans," Murphy said. "So you can see that those demands take up a tremendous amount of work, just like they do in the building department."

    A full-time inspector dedicated to annual inspections of existing structures will find plenty of work, Murphy said.

    "There are more than 200 mid- and high-rise multi-residential buildings on the island. Plus there are more than 800 other types of businesses on the island, including restaurants, commercial, retail and industrial sites that the new inspector would concentrate their time on to do those inspections on an annual basis," Murphy said.

    Owners of existing structures would pay the city an annual inspection fee, but owners would see the fees returned in insurance premium discounts that should result from the owner proving that their locations are free of safety violations by completing the inspections.

    Murphy said the insurance discount is not guaranteed, but is possible. City Councilman Heyward Boyce, who raised the issue during the June 18 workshop, said he believes the owners will get discounts if they meet certain criteria.

    "If a property owner can prove through the inspection process to an insurer that they've avoided safety violations, those discounts should be offered by the insurance company," he said.

    Murphy reiterated the benefits of a property owner's compliance with annual fire inspections.

    "An annual inspection gives a business owner a record that is similar to a safety check that, should an incident occur, such as a fire or something related to some of the issues involved with fire inspections, the owner would have a document on hand indicating that they were in compliance," Murphy said. "That could have a positive impact on any potential litigation that could result from an incident, as well."

    A salary for the new position hasn't been decided yet, but the fees collected from the inspections would be placed in an enterprise fund, which would be exempt from the city's mandatory budget spending cap.

    Written in Marco's charter, the spending cap prohibits city officials from exceeding the previous year's expenditures by more than 3 percent plus a cost-of-living allowance. Exceptions are utility and enterprise funds, grants, gifts and emergency expenditures.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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