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The Minot Fire Department’s inspectors will have a new home in 2022.
Inspectors Dana Summers, Stuart Hammer and Robby Brown are in the process of relocating their offices from Fire Station 1 to Public Works as part of a plan to consolidate the City’s inspection services under one roof.
“For customer service purposes, I believe in having a one-stop shop. It’s a model that they’ve talked about at the National Fire Academy, but it’s not very common in the fire service to have them under one roof, especially in North Dakota,” Fire Chief Kelli Kronschnabel said.
The City’s other inspectors are all located at Public Works. The decision to move the fire inspectors has been under discussion for most of 2021.
“The old way, someone may come here to ask us a question, and then have to go to Public Works to get another question answered,” Kronschnabel said. “Having them under one roof where they can collaborate and communicate with each other just makes sense. There are a lot of materials they already share, so this makes sense to share resources.”
All inspectors work together to review building plans and are involved in design review team meetings, which are held at Public Works. Public Works Director Dan Jonasson, City Engineer Lance Meyer, and Community Development Director Brian Billingsley were all involved in developing plans to consolidate services.
“They were all on board with it. Having all the inspectors under one roof is more customer friendly,” Kronschnabel said. “Plus, we’re moving to digital plans, so we needed to buy an expensive digital table for inspectors to use. We thought it would logical to share that piece of equipment so we didn’t need to purchase two of them.”
When the move is completed in the next week or so, the fire inspectors will be located in the engineering department. But once the assessor’s office moves into the new City Hall, all the inspectors will be located in the same part of the Public Works building.
The move will also allow the Fire Department to begin issuing permits, something not happening now because the department doesn’t have enough personnel.
“We’re always looking for ways to be more efficient, and this is another example of that,” Kronschnabel said. “We’ve never had the ability to do permits here because we don’t have the staff to do it. The staff at Public Works will assist us in moving into permitting. That will be good for our customers.”
The room where the inspectors have been housed at Fire Station 1 will be used for training and studying, Kronschnabel said. The department will also add a couple of computer terminals for firefighters to use when preparing reports.
“I think this highlights how we’re always looking for efficiencies and how we’re trying to do more effective in working with customers,” the fire chief said. “We’re really trying to be prudent and efficient with our funding and our personnel.”
The chief said the move means consistent communication between the inspectors and the Fire Department will be vital.
“It will be kind of like having an outlying station. They’ll be our Station 6, so to speak,” she said. “Ultimately, it’s me that’s still the authority in the Fire Department, so we’ll need to make sure we continue to have good communication so I’m informed of what they’re working on.”