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February 14, 2005

New Building Inspection Office
Established to Promote Safety

A fire and building inspection office is being established to review building plans, issue building permits, and inspect construction and major renovations before new or renovated buildings are occupied.

The office, part of the Division of Public Safety, is intended to ensure that buildings too small to require state building inspections are thoroughly checked out before they are occupied, said Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith, vice president and chief operating officer.

“The safety of students, faculty, and staff is of utmost importance,” she said. “The inspection system will ensure that the discrepancies overlooked at Hilltop Apartments, Charter Oak Apartments and suites, and Husky Village do not happen again.”

The state considers those buildings “non-threshold buildings” – buildings too small to trigger a state-required inspection, and the University did not have an adequate insepction process in place she said. Once the administration learned that the buildings did not meet code, officials called in the state fire marshal and the state building inspector, who confirmed that they were safe to be occupied. Work also began immediately to bring the buildings into compliance with code.

The new Fire Marshal and Building Inspector’s office, headquartered at the Depot Campus, will include a state fire marshal assigned to the University by the state Department of Public Safety. The University will reimburse the state office for the services of the fire marshal. It will also include two fire inspectors, who will be reassigned from the fire department, and two state-certified building inspectors, who will be responsible for ensuring that all electrical, plumbing, and related codes are met in non-threshold buildings.

The office will be headed by Capt. John Flaherty, who is the University fire marshal and, until his new assignment, part of the Fire Department.

The personnel reassigned from the fire department to the fire marshal/inspection program will be replaced.

The fire department will also continue annual inspections of buildings, fire extinguishers, and safety inspections. Student residences are inspected twice a year.

The new office will work closely with the architectural and engineering office in Storrs and the planning and construction office at the Health Center, and the Health Center fire department, said Robert Hudd, director of public safety and chief of police.

“The process for constructing and opening any building must satisfy the state building inspector and the state fire marshal,” he said. “Our collective responsibility is to ensure that every project is code-compliant and fully accepted at the state Department of Public Safety.”