Orange City adds fire safety inspector

By Drew Dixon | Sentinel Correspondent
Posted May 30, 2003

ORANGE CITY -- The city has outgrown the days of having Fire Department lieutenants conduct fire-code inspections.

"I'm behind this about 285 percent," fire Lt. Daniel Boone said of the City Council's decision this week to create the position of fire safety inspector. The job should be posted online by the end of July, bringing a sigh of relief to the Fire Department, Boone said.

Boone said there are so many inspections in the city these days, the designation of a fire safety inspector is long overdue. Inspections interrupted by emergency calls put more pressure on firefighters and annoy business owners, he said.

"It's a big inconvenience for them [owners]. You can be three-quarters of the way through an inspection and you get a call," which means the lieutenant has to rush to the emergency. City Council member Don Sherrill was part of the unanimous vote Tuesday that approved the new position.

"We're at the point now where we had to have one [fire inspector] solely because we aren't getting our inspections done around the city," Sherrill said.

Growth dictated the addition, Sherrill said. "We right now have about five major housing developments on the drawing board. There's so much of it going on, [lieutenants] can't do all the other jobs as far as the Fire Department's concerned because of the overload," he said.

"It's in dire need," City Council member Chuck Abell said. "A lot of business inspections were getting backlogged."

Orange City's population has jumped from about 5,000 people a decade ago to nearly 8,000 people today.

If the city annexes the John Knox Village subdivision this year, which has an estimated 700-plus people, the population would jump by about 10 percent, City Manager John McCue said.

"As growth continues like this, you're going to see this city lean more in this direction. The natural response is to add more human resources," McCue said.

Fire Capt. Herb Hoffman Jr. is the city's fire marshal and shares the code-inspection burden with the lieutenants. The new position will be a big bonus to staffing, he said.

"It will be considerable; it's going to free up a lot of time. We currently do about 800 inspections annually. A lot of this is going to funnel down to the new position." That will free the lieutenants to spend more time on training. It also means a regular vehicle, such as a pickup, can be used for code inspections instead of fire engines, Hoffman said.

"It can free me up for plan reviews and more time for fire investigations and administrative duties," he said.

The same measure that got the backing of the council for the fire inspector also upgraded another position, creating the new title of community improvement supervisor.

McCue said the current code-enforcement officer, Greg Lariscy, who is also a police officer, will move into the community-improvement supervisor role.

The change adds more responsibility to Lariscy's job, McCue said.

The post will be responsible for implementing community-oriented policing programs, citizens on patrol, code enforcement and Neighborhood Watch programs and also will oversee animal control.

Eventually, the supervisor's position will oversee two subordinate workers, who are already on staff.

Upgrading the position wasn't driven by growth, McCue said, but is more of an expansion of services.