Saskatoon

City growth means Saskatoon needs more inspectors: fire chief

The Saskatoon Fire Department wants to hire two experienced fire inspectors, at an estimated cost of $125,000 each, to deal with a backlog of building and property inspections.

Hiring 2 experienced inspectors in 2018 and 2019 to deal with inspection backlog would cost $250K

The Saskatoon Fire Department has 12 building inspectors but needs more, says the city's fire chief. (CBC)

The Saskatoon Fire Department wants to hire two experienced fire inspectors, at an estimated cost of $125,000 per year each, to deal with a backlog of building and property inspections.

Exactly how deep the backlog goes, Fire Chief Morgan Hackl can't say.

"Are we getting every inspection done during the year? No," he said.

12 inspectors currently

The city's fire department has 12 inspectors, a number that hasn't grown since 2012, said Hackl.

Those inspectors not only handle building inspections for safety compliance, but also fire investigations, property maintenance complaints (about everything from tall weeds to insect infestations) and education drives.

Saskatoon Fire Chief Morgan Hackl wants to hire two more fire inspectors. (CBC News)

"Since 2012, the city has seen a lot of growth in both commercial and industrial properties, but also multi-residential," he said.

The backlog does not extend to inspections of apartment buildings and other multi-unit residential buildings — top-priority buildings that need inspecting every year, said Hackl.

Three quarters of those inspections have been completed so far this year.

"We're actually ahead of schedule [on those]," said Hackl. "And those are very important ones to us because there's people sleeping in those homes at night. Those are life safety."

Behind on offices and industrial sites

But the department is behind on inspections of office buildings and industrial sites.

Hackl hopes that, with one new inspector hired for 2018 and another in 2019 — and with both of those inspectors solely dedicated to building inspections — the department will be able to increase the number of overall inspections it does every year by 28 per cent.

Handing over less-urgent property maintenance complaints to bylaw officers — a process that's already underway — will help with that effort, he added. 

But even more inspectors would be needed for the department to reach a 100 per cent completion rate, said Hackl.

Each new inspector — who is expected to have 10 years of experience — is estimated to cost the city $125,000 per year, including salaries and benefits, said Hackl.

City councillors are scheduled to address the issue on Tuesday.

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

Reporter at CBC Saskatoon

Story tips? guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

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