CIFR to conduct County’s Business Inspections
Under a new inter-local agreement with Island County, Camano Island Fire & Rescue (CIFR) will be helping Camano Island businesses stay safe and potentially improve their property values by conducting business occupancy fire inspections.
The Fire District will be working directly with our local business community to improve the fire safety of their structures. The inter-local agreement with the Island County Building Department allows local firefighters from the various fire districts across Island County to begin the inspections on behalf of the county.
Overall, fire inspections can serve to benefit business owners by offering:
- A safer working environment for employees.
- A safer building for visitors, shoppers, or clients.
- Business and job security. Statistically, up to 80 percent of all small businesses that experience a large fire never reopen.
- A better-maintained building for improved resale value.
- A possible reduction in insurance premiums. Many insurance carriers give businesses premium reductions for properly installed and maintained fire-protection systems.
The overall responsibility and jurisdiction of the fire inspection process still remains with the County Building Department, according to State law. Due to budget shortfalls and staffing reductions, Island County government found it increasingly difficult to perform these annual fire inspections. Some of these fire inspection actions have lapsed now for over five years.
CIFR recognized that our own firefighters could assume these routine fire inspection duties from the county and perhaps positively impact local fire insurance premium rates too. Just as important is the familiarity of these structures and their contents gained by the firefighters during the inspection process. Should a fire or other emergency occur, this advanced knowledge can greatly aid emergency responders in taking quick and safe action.
Worth noting is that local communities all across the state are graded by the WSRB (Washington Surveying & Rating Bureau) for a Fire Insurance Protection Class Rating. These protection class ratings can affect a home or local business owner’s fire insurance premiums. The WSRB uses grading criteria not unlike the ISO (Insurance Services Office), but much of their grading criteria involves parameters that are not under the immediate control of the local fire district. Our WSRB grading report card is posted on our web page within the About Us section.
Such WSRB rating criteria areas include:
- Fire district staffing levels, administration, and internal practices,
- Local 911 services,
- Local water supplies for fire fighting and,
- Reoccurring Fire Prevention measures via routine fire inspections.
Annual inspections by fire departments are typically performed to assess and mitigate potential fire-and life-safety hazards in buildings. CIFR would provide the business owner with a written report of any corrections that are necessary. Fire inspections would be scheduled annually and do involve a nominal inspection fee as imposed by Island County, not the Fire District. CIFR will contact our local business owners well ahead of time to schedule their business occupancy fire inspections in an effort to avoid disrupting their normal business day.
Any fire code enforcement related measures still remain the responsibility of the County Building Department – as they are recognized by the state as the Authority Having Jurisdiction.
Please contact Assistant Chief Craig Helgeland at (360) 387-1512 with related program questions.