The Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal recommends industrial buildings undergo annual fire inspections. That's not happening in Windsor.
For example, Windsor Fire and Rescue chief fire prevention officer Lee Tome said the site of a massive industrial plastics fire this week was last inspected in 2009.
Sprucewood Industries went up in flames Tuesday afternoon, creating a huge black plume of smoke that stretched across the city and could be seen from as far away as Pelee Island.
The fire forced the City of Windsor and town of LaSalle to each call a state of emergency.
A cause is not yet known. The fire remains under investigation. It's impossible to know at this point whether an annual inspection could have prevented the fire.
However, Tome admitted that Windsor fire "is not able to follow" the Fire Marshal's recommendation of annual inspections "because of the numbers we have."
Windsor Fire and Rescue has between seven and nine fire prevention officers available to conduct inspections.
CBC News was unable to learn from the City of Windsor how many industrial properties there are in Windsor.
Chief building official Lee Anne Doyle said her department does not track that information. Several emails to the city's planning department were not returned.
Tome refused to say his department is understaffed.
"That’s not something I’m saying. That’s not a decision I would make," he answered when asked.
However, Windsor Fire and Rescue is undergoing a resource review and is preparing a report that will go before council.
"We’re in the process of establishing a regulating bylaw which will assist us in setting the level of service we provide," Tome said.
Bruce Montone, the Chief of Windsor Fire and Rescue, said given the number of inspectors and structures in Windsor it's a mathematical impossibility to follow the recommendations for inspection frequency. However, he doesn't believe that is a significant problem.
"That suggested frequency of inspection table is exactly that," he said, saying it's based in a world of ideals. "I can tell you there are few if any municipalities that actually deliver inspection services in accordance with that guideline."
Montone went on to say that inspections are priortized and hospitals and schools are visited every year. He said there are eighteen thousand buildings that could be inspected in Windsor, a number that doesn't include single family homes.
"If you divided up those almost eighteen thousand buildings amongst the staff that would mean every staff member would have 3-thousand buildings to manage," Montone said. "And that's going to take them a minimum of ten years to visit every one once."
Other buildings the Ontario Fire Marshal says should be inspected annually include, hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools and churches.
"We have to remember though, compliance of the Ontario Fire Code is the responsibility of the owner, not the municipality," Tome said.
Only the fire department can conduct inspections and they must be done at the request of the property owner.