WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Wilkes-Barre Township's administration is seeking to update its fire safety inspection ordinance to give its code enforcement officer more time to perform inspections.
The proposed changes would remove an April 1 deadline for commercial property fire code inspections in the heavily developed township, allowing the code enforcement officer to inspect properties at his discretion.
We have so many businesses, there's no way he could get it all done, Township Administrator Michael Revitt said.
Zoning and Code Enforcement Officer Tom Zedolik said he was unable to meet that deadline for all properties in the past.
It's a one-man show here, Zedolik said. I do it myself and I can't do it all by April. I was doing the best I can, but I wasn't getting every property every year.
Council will act on the proposed changes to the ordinance at its next meeting, 7:30 p.m. March 4.
Annual fire inspections address issues such as emergency lighting, emergency exit signage, fire extinguisher maintenance and access to exits.
Many of the township's big-box stores, such as Walmart and Sam's Club, have their own maintenance departments, which gives them little trouble in meeting the conditions of the ordinance. Deficiencies are typically more prevalent at smaller businesses, such as restaurants, that don't have maintenance department crews to remember to, for example, change the batteries in emergency lights and emergency exit lighting, Zedolik said. The changes will provide him more time to focus on thoroughly inspecting those properties, he said.
The proposed changes also would delete requirements to conduct fire alarm tests, which is problematic because 911 operators must be notified in advance of the test, and for fire drills at commercial businesses, Zedolik said.
It isn't practical to perform fire drills at large businesses such as the Wyoming Valley Mall and Walmart, Zedolik said.
Basically you don't want to disrupt the business, he said.