The Waxahachie Fire Department is taking care of businesses through its revamped inspection program. The program will help to ensure that local businesses will be safe to operate for years to come.

“State and local fire codes require that every business receives a fire inspection regularly,” Fire Inspector and Lt. Candon Birdwell said. “This program will help to reduce the occurrence of injury and fire at a business when put into action by business owners.”

Birdwell said there are some businesses that receive an inspection each year, which include buildings that house industry, schools or building that have a sprinkler system. However there are a lot of businesses that have not received an inspection since they opened their doors. Inspections were not done on a regular basis due to a lack of manpower.

Birdwell has served with the department for the past eight and half years as a certified firefighter. He recently received his credentials as a fire inspector and serves under the Fire Marshal Dennis Crecelius. Inspections will be a part of his main duties.

The revamped inspection program will now put all businesses in Waxahachie on a priority based inspection cycle where some businesses will be inspected every one to three years, depending on classification.

Birdwell said the inspection program is not a “gotcha” program where the department is seeking out to catch businesses on violations. The purpose of the program is to educate business owners about fire prevention measures, make their buildings safe to operate and make the buildings safe for firefighters to enter if there is an emergency. It's other goal is help business owners to reduce injuries to themselves, their employees and customers during an emergency and to reduce property loss.

Birdwell added that the department wants to see the city continue to growth and thrive.

Some of preventive measures that business owners can take before an inspection takes place include: keeping hallways, corridors and aisles clear of storage and clutter, keep exits and doors clear of clutter, do not store combustibles within 36 inches of a heat-producing appliance, remove trash daily, post a building evacuation plan, and know where fire extinguisher are located and how to use them.

On the outside of the building keep brush and weeds away from the building, have clear and visible fire lanes, have clear and visible street number in front and rear of the building. Also keep fire sprinkler control valves, fire hydrants and fire department connections accessible.

Birdwell said some other common violations include combustibles being stored in electrical rooms or exit and emergency lights that are no longer working.

Birdwell will be contacting businesses throughout the year to set up a time for an inspection with a business owner. Business owners who have questions about the program can contact Birdwell at the department at 469-309-4200. The Waxahachie Fire Administration Office is located 407 Water St.