Inspectors’ training on a whole ’nother level

Covington Code Inspector Rick Dames eyes gutters and drainpipes on one of the city’s older buildings.

Overhaul of Code Enforcement has included higher certifications

COVINGTON, Ky. – The City of Covington division that works to protect residents’ health and safety while also preserving property values has elevated its training and expertise to the next level.

Over the last year, the City has transformed its Code Enforcement Division from a part-time operation into a full-time five-member inspection team – and that team has gone far beyond requirements to expand its expertise to help residents.

  • All five members are now certified as Property Maintenance and Housing Inspectors with the International Code Council.
  • All five have also completed Fire Inspector Level I & II training and are certified by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. (This trains them to recognize conditions and setups that can lead to a fire and would impede someone trying to escape that fire.)
  • And three of the five hold OSHA 10 certification in construction site safety, OSHA being the federal agency that governs workplace safety.

Code Enforcement Manager Walt Mace said the certifications are part of the continued overhaul of the division that has included a more consistent enforcement philosophy, elimination of a backlog of cases, streamlined processes, and a renewed focus on compliance rather than punishment.

“While it is not a state requirement that everyone in the division be certified to the level that they are, Covington has taken the extra step to provide that additional layer of professionalism and safety to the work that the division performs in property maintenance oversight and performing life-safety inspections in rental units in the city,” Mace said.

The certifications aren’t one-time accomplishments but require regular continuing education.

They allow inspectors to do their job with more efficiency and command of issues, regulations, and conditions, Mace said. Often in the past, the division and its part-time inspectors relied too heavily on in-the-field training.

Joining Mace with inspection responsibilities are Senior Code Inspector Joe Meimann and Code Inspectors Jeri Asher, Rick Dames, and Trevor Wendt. They’re supported by Code Enforcement Coordinator Kim Strategier.

The division’s place within Covington’s Neighborhood Services Department reflects its multi-layered mission: Protecting the health and safety of Covington residents by enforcing property maintenance, nuisance, and zoning codes, thus focusing on residents’ quality of life; improving the aesthetics of neighborhoods; eliminating blight; preserving property values; and reducing crime.

The staff conducts periodic inspections of properties, responds to complaints, and issues citations as needed to encourage compliance.

Among the many issues it focuses on include things like broken sanitary waste systems, unsafe trees, missing gutters and downspouts, standing water that breeds mosquitos, and tall weeds and trash that attract rodents.

Year to date, the Code Enforcement Division has responded to over 3,000 cases in Covington, said Brandon Holmes, who was promoted Tuesday night to director of Neighborhood Services.

“It’s a good team that works hard on behalf of Covington residents to keep them safe and to maintain the value of their properties by keeping our neighborhoods looking good,” Holmes said. “It’s an ongoing and thankless job, but the evolution of this division has been fascinating to watch.”

Rental licenses

With the City’s adoption of a comprehensive approach to rental licenses over the last couple of years, the inspectors have added responsibility: Visiting every rental property in Covington during the three-year phase-in period.

As of now, that means 3,400 properties, but it will wind up being more, Mace said. “I’ve assigned some 700 inspections to be done as part of the first phase,” he said.

The overhaul’s goal is to ensure safe and sanitary housing while streamlining the process for property owners and better protecting tenants and neighbors.

For more details, see HERE and HERE.

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