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City to consider new inspections for fire hazards

The City Council will consider on Tuesday whether to adopt a new fire hazard inspection program.

The council meets at 7 p.m. in the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main St.

Ashland Fire & Rescue suspended regular fire hazard inspections of buildings more than a decade ago due to a lack of staffing.

Fire Chief John Karns, who came from California to head Ashland Fire & Rescue earlier this year, said fire inspections are an expected and required function of fire departments in Oregon.

Ashland Fire & Rescue occasionally inspects buildings that have a high fire hazard or where many people could die. But there are currently no fire prevention and safety inspections of regular businesses and multi-family buildings in Ashland, according to Karns.

To help pay for the program, property owners would have to pay fees. Fines could also be levied if fire hazards were not corrected.

Also Tuesday night, the City Council will consider whether to apply for a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant to boost Ashland Fire & Rescue staffing levels.

Karns has recommended that the city apply for funding to pay for four positions.

The grant would pay for two years of salaries and benefits for new firefighters, but the city of Ashland would have to pay those costs in the third year.

The cost of four firefighters in the third year would be $397,527.52, according to a staff memo to the council.

For a complete list of agenda items and for details on each item, visit www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=12395.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.