Cape Breton Regional Municipality needs to either hire more fire prevention inspectors, or contract that service from the provincial fire marshal's office, says CBRM Fire Chief Michael Seth.
The municipality has two trained fire inspectors who are conducting inspections and meeting legislated requirements, the chief said.
"They are, but I'll be honest with you, when you look at the Fire Safety Act and the responsibility, it's a bit much for two inspectors for the entire municipality," Seth said, following a meeting of the CBRM's fire and emergency services committee meeting on Wednesday.
The municipality has known about the problem for years, he said, and a report has been drafted weighing out the options.
"We're evaluating that on what's the cost of doing either or — bringing more staff on versus having the fire marshal's office step in and take over on our behalf — because ultimately, we're responsible to the province on the Fire Safety Act and completing those inspections."
The fire marshal's office is investigating the cause of a Dec. 17 house fire on Park Street in Sydney that killed 33-year-old Rajesh Gollapudi of India, an international student at Cape Breton University. He was one of eight tenants in one-half of a duplex.
The fatality raised concerns about the number of rooming houses in CBRM and the municipality's capacity to inspect them.
Seth, who has been chief for three years, said the report on the number of fire department inspectors is not a response to that incident.
"The fire prevention issue was discussed long before I got here," he said.
But Seth said the report has to go through internal vetting before it's brought to the public.
He plans to send the report first to the fire department leadership team, CBRM staff directors and the regional chiefs association that represents volunteer departments.
Then it will go back to the fire and emergency services committee, before going to council.
MORE TOP STORIES