Fire chief says department audit is leading to change

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Fire Chief Samuel Pena says there's a new effort to get fire inspectors in more buildings.

Pena took questions from reporters Thursday on the critical audit that was released by the city controller's office in mid-June.

In the 80 plus page audit, a total of 28 areas of improvements were found.

For example, in the past two years, only five percent of the city's 5,000 plus apartment buildings were inspected, the audit found.

With the exception of HAZMAT facilities, the city does not require inspection of buildings before issuing certificates of occupancy.

Six of the department's 15 safety guidelines haven't been updated since 2002.

Chief Pena says there were a number of problems, including paperwork problems, missing audits, and a non-existent filing system.

Pena says major changes have already been put in place.

"Part of the reason that we couldn't produce the number of inspections that had been done is a lot of it was done on paper. It's maintained on paper," Pena said. "That's not an efficient way to do things."

Pena says he expects the department to complete 11,000 inspections each year with its new management system. The life safety bureau has roughly 125 inspectors, Pena said.
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