16 lbs. 3 oz. of technical knowledge

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Code Enforcement staff trains above, beyond to keep residents safe
 
COVINGTON, Ky. - Collectively, the five books weigh 16 pounds and 3 ounces. Stacked on top of each other, they’re 6.25 inches tall.
 
Carrying dry titles like “NFPA 1 Fire Code” and “International Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings,” they’re filled with the technical information you need to know if you’re a code inspector in the City of Covington - not just related to building codes and nuisance regulations but also to fire safety.
 
The two fire code books are new.
 
Recently, Covington’s seven code enforcement inspectors - plus Code Enforcement Manager Walt Mace - completed a combined 224 hours of Level 1 and 2 training to be certified as Fire Prevention Inspectors. Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith completed the Level 1 training as well.
 
Technically speaking, the training - taught at the Boone County Fire Training Center by the Kentucky State Fire Marshal’s Office - is required only for some of Covington’s staff. But City leaders seized the opportunity to continue the transformation of the division begun a year ago with an all-new team of inspectors, more formal and broader training, and the creation of more consistent enforcement philosophy and processes.
 
The staff-wide training will have practical impact.
 
“The extra training for the new inspectors finishes off what we started a year ago with more formal training and gives all of our inspectors a much better view of everything they need to look for so residents and property owners in Covington are better protected,” Mace said.
 
On a practical level, the fire code training means that inspectors who are visiting a property for other reasons should recognize conditions and set-ups that 1) could lead to a fire, and 2) would make it less likely for people to escape that fire, Mace said.
 
For example, inspectors have found flammable liquids like cans of gasoline stored in living quarters. They’ve seen stoves and AC units plugged into extension cords. And they’ve seen locks on the outside of bedroom doors that would trap children in a fire.
 
Other, more detailed regulations address things like location of smoke detectors, fire ratings of doors, and occupancy restrictions.
 
Code enforcement inspectors don’t replace Fire Department inspectors - they augment their work and use Fire officials as a constant resource and for final review, Mace said. But he said his staff are often in residences where the Fire Department doesn’t visit regularly.
 
Smith said the investment of staff time and money - the two fire code books alone cost $200 per set - is well worth it to further the code enforcement division’s ultimate goal: Keeping residents safe and healthy.
 
“A nuisance violation is just a nuisance violation, but fire safety is a matter of life and death,” he said. “It’s just good information that I wanted the entire staff to have.”
 

Code enforcement inspectors have beefed up their ability to spot potential fire hazards.

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