City: Fire Prevention Bureau Missed Very Few Inspections

Columbus officials released the findings of a year-long, independent investigation of the Fire Prevention Bureau. The city hired labor attorney Pamela Krivda to investigate reports that fire safety inspections were not conducted. She also examined allegations of race and gender discrimination and the billing of employee overtime.

City officials acknowledged that there were communications problems between the Fire Prevention Bureau and the Building Services Division – the city agencies that inspect construction projects. But an attorney hired by the city for a year-long review said she found very few instances where inspections by the fire prevention bureau were not performed.

“Of the 30 missed inspections, we found that five were done exactly as they were supposed to be done, and with 25 of them, there were some miscommunication issues that caused it either to be a “miss” or to appear as if it were a “miss.”

Public Safety Director Mitchell Brown says the city is working to improve communications between the two city departments. The payment of overtime to bureau inspectors had also been called into question. But Brown said the Columbus police had earlier found no criminal wrong-doing. It was instead, he said, a lack of clearly understood procedure.

“It’s important to note that we’ve had an evaluation whether or not there was any criminal wrongdoing. And we found there was none. Once we take a look at this report that Ms. Krivda has provided for us, we’ll review it. If there was any administrative wrongdoing we’ll deal with that.”

Independent investigator Pamela Krivda says she found no evidence of gender or race discrimination as alleged by the bureau’s battalion chief Yolanda Arnold. But Mitchell Brown acknowledged there were management difficulties within the Fire Prevention Bureau, partly due, he said, to to poor interpersonal communications.

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