Nova Scotia

Halifax behind in fire inspections, chief says

The Halifax fire department has a backlog of fire inspections that needs to be cleared up, the department's new chief says.

Priority inspections being done

Halifax firefighters respond to a report of a suspicious package on Spring Garden Road in February. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The Halifax fire department has a backlog of fire inspections that needs to be cleared up, the department's new chief says.

Fire prevention officers have carried out almost 500 fewer inspections than they had done at this time last year, Halifax Regional Fire Chief Doug Trussler said. That's almost a 25 per cent drop.

The department is staying on top of high priority visits to schools, nursing homes and day cares, he said, but the department is falling behind overall because of a staff shortage.

The department will soon be short five inspectors due to retirements. 

"Right now we are down four positions due to retirement and we are expecting one more retirement. So we're down almost a third of what we need," Trussler said.

Inspectors are responsible for checking on all buildings where the public can gather such as bars and restaurants, as well as industrial properties.

The department also has an internal problem finding out about new properties that should be added to their inspection list, or if the use of an existing building has changed, Trussler said. 

"The computer systems don't talk to each other. So HRM has hired a data architect to work on the systems right now," he said.

This year's budget documents point out that provincial law requires these inspections be done.  So Trussler said he plans  to hire more people and get Halifax's inspection system back on track this year. 

The fire department's plans will be presented to regional council Monday during budget debate.