Businesses, apartments soon to see safety inspections

Fire chief, three captains to conduct checks of buildings

Businesses and many apartment buildings in Webster City are now subject to safety inspections by the Fire Department.

”I really believe it’s going to be a benefit to our community,” Fire Chief Chuck Stansfield told the City Council Monday before it voted unanimously to approve the program.

For years, the Fire Department has conducted safety inspections at schools, day care facilities and businesses that sell alcohol.

Now the department will begin inspecting all other businesses and apartment buildings that have four or more units. The goal is to ensure compliance with the 2015 version of the International Fire Code.

But Stansfield said the firefighters will not employ heavy-handed enforcement tactics. He said they will ‘engage the community” by educating people about fire safety and encouraging them to comply with the fire codes.

”For the majority of my career, that’s worked,” he said.

”We’re not going to come in as the inspection police,” he added. ”We want to work with people.”

If a business owner or landlord refused to comply with the fire code, they could be charged with a municipal infraction that would be prosecuted in magistrate court, according to City Attorney Zach Chizek.

The city will not charge fees for the inspections.

The inspections will be conducted by Stansfield and the department’s three captains.