375 Apache Junction, Gold Canyon businesses to do their own fire inspections

Businesses in Apache Junction strip malls are some that will be doing self fire inspections under a new program approved Aug. 16. It includes a $20 fee for administration costs and an online or mailed form that is filled out.

The Superstition Fire and Medical District Governing Board approved the change from requiring a fire inspector or firefighters from doing the paperwork. Voting yes were Chairman Jeff Cross (by phone), Board Clerk Gene Gehrt and board members Todd House, Larry Strand and Jason Moeller (by phone).

The fire district has been working for about four years to implement a self-inspection program, Interim Fire Chief Mike Farber said at the Aug. 16 meeting of the fire district governing board.

“It’s a program that basically the business owner will be given approval to do their own self-inspection of each B-occupancy, which are insurance companies, bank offices, doctor offices – basically the type of businesses you see in a strip mall,” he said.

There are 375 B-occupancy businesses in the fire district’s coverage area.

“Out of the 1,050 businesses in the community, we can’t get to all of them and a lot of agencies have been doing this. About every three years we’ll actually go out and do an inspection,” Interim Fire Chief Farber said.

The $20 fee will help cover administration costs, which includes the cost of postage, data input and record-keeping. Business owners will have the ability to pay the fee via mail or credit card on the district’s website, http://sfmd.az.gov. The approximate revenue generated from the self-inspection program would be $7,500 a year, according to a document in the board packet from Interim Fire Chief Farber and Acting Assistant Chief Richard Mooney.

“We use $20 … as an administrative fee. We need to basically input all that data into the system and then monitor and make sure that the inspections are actually being done. We’re giving people the chance to either do it online through our website or they can do it in the mail – whichever they prefer,” Acting Assistant Chief Mooney said to the governing board.

“How do you inspect the inspectors? They’re doing a fire inspection themselves,” Mr. Strand said.

“That’s part of the three-year follow-up, to go back and ensure they are actually doing it,” Acting Assistant Chief Mooney said.
Chairman Cross asked by phone if the businesses not in the program that had a fire inspector or fire crew visit also had a $20 fee.
“Their fee would be a little higher based on the occupancy and what kind of hazards they have there,” Acting Assistant Chef Mooney said. The fee is $50, with added costs if there is fuel or propane at the business, he said.

In order to provide detailed instructions on the new program, an instructional video on the business self-inspection program is available on the district’s website. It is also on YouTube at https://youtu.be/vjo9nFg2Alc.

The video was shown at the meeting.

“Very good job,” Mr. Gehrt said.

“If something like that could go to that neighborhood that I live in, a video like this. I know you’ve been there before with some great information, but this is super, super good,” Mr. Strand said.

“I think it’s a great program and it’s very impressive. I know a lot of work went into it and I’d even like to go a step further. Not to give you more work, but if we could build something like this for residential… that would be perfect,” Mr. Gehrt said. “You make something like this and put it online and they could do their own self-test.”

The fire district was established in 1955 under what is now Arizona Revised Statutes 48-261. It was formed by property owners and registered voters who petitioned the Pinal County Board of Supervisors to create a special taxing district to provide fire protection services. The fire district encompasses 62 square miles, according to http://sfmd.az.gov/the-district.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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