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Ky. officials fund additional fire inspector, fire prevention position in FD

The new position in the Owensboro Fire Department will increase community risk reduction efforts


Adam Paris/Owensboro Fire Department/Facebook

By James Mayse

OWENSBORO, Ky. — Included in the budget city commissioners will vote on Tuesday evening are funds to create a second fire inspector and fire prevention position at the Owensboro Fire Department.

The new captain’s position will put a second person in OFD’s fire prevention department, which conducts fire inspections, answers questions about the city’s fire code for builders, and does education on fire safety in schools and for community groups.

OFD officials said the position is needed because OFD currently only has one person in fire prevention, and that the department’s work is too much for one person.

“One person has a difficult time doing four people’s jobs,” said Battalion Chief Steve Leonard, the department’s fire inspector and fire marshal.

Fire prevention once had as many as four people, but the office was allowed to decrease in size through retirements under previous chief Steve Mitchell, Leonard said.

“You can only multitask so much,” Leonard said.

City Fire Chief James Howard said the although fire crews also do inspections to make sure buildings are meeting basic lifesaving needs, the fire inspectors are trained to do more comprehensive examinations.

“You have over 2,000 business entities in the city,” Howard said. “The fire marshal can’t do them all by himself.”

The department eliminated two part-time positions to create the new captain post for the fire prevention division, Howard said.

“We found there was a gap there” in fire prevention, Howard said, and “that gap was filled at times with two part-time positions.”

“It’s much better suited to a full-time position” who will work with the fire marshal, Howard said. “It’s really community risk reduction.”

Leonard said he and the new captain will teach certified fire prevention classes, as well as work with builders and inspect public buildings.

“The whole purpose behind the division of fire prevention is to prevent those fires from occurring,” Leonard said.

When people are taught how to prevent fires “you are replacing fear with knowledge,” Leonard said.

Howard said having the position included in the city budget “is a big win for us.”

“There’s a lot on the fire marshal’s plate, and we are delegating some of that” to the new fire inspector, Howard said.

The second fire prevention position will provide “better public safety right off the bat,” Howard said.

“The more we can prevent the problem in the first place, that’s better for the public and our responders,” Howard said.

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