Sept. 12, 2012, Aurora, Ont. – Harold Pothier, Nova Scotia’s new fire marshal, says he will continue to work to improve the province’s inspections system and implement recommendations from a 2011 auditor general’s report.
Sept. 12, 2012, Aurora, Ont. – Harold Pothier, Nova Scotia’s new fire
marshal, says he will continue to work to improve the province’s
inspections system and implement recommendations from a 2011 auditor
The report, which was released in May 2011, claimed that the Office of
the Fire Marshal (OFM) was inadequately protecting the public from
fire-safety risks in buildings, and specifically pointed to the lack of
fire inspections at schools and other public buildings in the province.
Pothier, who has been with the fire marshal’s office for 20 years, most
recently as deputy fire marshal and as acting fire marshal, says these
issues arose mainly from documentation errors.
“It’s not that [the OFM] was not doing inspections, but the
documentation wasn’t being done properly,” he said in a press release.
“A lot [of the inspections] were done by telecommunications and without the paperwork, without following up.”
The report pointed to the OFM’s central database – the fire department
management system (FDM) – which is available for use by staff and
management. At the time of the audit, the system did not include an
inventory of all buildings requiring inspections, or all completed
inspections and investigations. Of the 70 inspection files that the
auditor general tested, 76 per cent were not recorded in the FDM.
The report recommended that the OFM “evaluate its operational
information needs and its management information systems to ensure that
all necessary information is being collected and is available for use by
staff and management,” and for the office to “ensure that at a minimum,
a complete inventory of all buildings requiring inspections by that
Office, and all inspection and investigation activities, are entered
into the system in a timely manner.”
By January, Pothier had already taken these recommendations into
account. CBC News reported that his staff of fire inspectors were
conducting about 120 inspections per month, while other members of his
staff were working on a plan that would set priorities for buildings
that require more frequent inspections.
Auditor General Jacques Lapointe told CBC News in January that said he was impressed with the response.
“From what I can see, they’ve taken this very seriously,” he said. “I
know they did when we were talking to them at the time and I’m quite
heartened by the extent of their response. They’re taking action to
overhaul the whole system and I really couldn’t ask right now for any
more of a response from them.”