Huntsville Fire working to keep up with high demand in safety inspections

WAFF's Kellie Miller reporting
Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 7:55 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The city of Huntsville is growing like crazy! Every day it seems there’s a new manufacturing plant, restaurant or office popping up. As the city continues to grow, first responders are trying to keep up with inspection demands.

Trent Bennett, Assistant Fire Marshal with the Huntsville Bureau of Fire Prevention, said his team gets about 50 to 75 building plans to review per week. That’s about double what it used to be just a few years ago.

“So we review sprinkler plans, we review fire alarm plans, we review life safety plans, all the things of that nature that help us to make it as safe as possible,” Bennett said.

The Bureau of Fire Prevention is responsible for examining buildings for fire hazards and ensuring life safety codes are met. Right now, there are three plan reviewers and seven inspectors in the department.

“If the city continues to grow at this rate, then we are going to need more manpower to help us do these inspections because we still have existing inspections of buildings, we have new construction, along with also doing fire investigations and public relations,” Bennett said.

Bennett said Huntsville Fire is planning ahead, and actively recruiting in all areas. Although it’s an extremely busy time, Bennett said his job has some great perks!

“It’s a great time to be in Huntsville right now with all the growth,” Bennett said. “There are a lot of things coming that I can’t speak about…And as part of my role in what I do...A lot of people don’t know that I get to see a lot of things coming to Huntsville first hand, before it actually gets announced. So that is one of the great things about what I do. But if you are living in Huntsville, be excited because a lot more things are coming.”

Bennett said there are not usually any major issues in the building plans his team receives. However, the review process can be lengthy and tedious, especially for bigger projects.

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