Memo for fiscal year 2019, updated 2018-03-29

[Archived] Question #29: What formula is used to determine the staffing of an additional 0.5 FTE fire marshal? Are there applicable revenue sources available to offset this addition (fees, etc)?


The budget proposes the increase of an additional 0.5 FTE Fire Marshal. What formula is used to determine this staffing? Are there applicable revenue sources available to offset this addition (fees, etc.)?


The decision to add a part-time Fire Marshal derived from an analysis performed by the Office of Performance and Accountability (OPA) in November 2017. In FY 2015, two Fire Marshal positions were eliminated, bringing the total number of Fire Marshals at the time down to five. From FY 2011 – 2014, OPA found that 14% of fire prevention permit (FPP) inspections were overdue (inspection conducted after the existing permit had expired). In FY 2015, when two Fire Marshals were removed, this rate increased to 31%. In FY 2016, the overdue rate increased to 47%. Adding a part-time Fire Marshal is an effort to drive this rate down. From FY 2011 – 2014, Fire Marshals handled an average of 338.5 inspections per marshal. In FY 2015 and 2016, this rate increased to 414 inspections per Fire Marshal. Holding the number of inspection requests constant (2,060 in FY 2016, our most recent data point), adding a part-time Fire Marshal will take some of the burden off the other Fire Marshals, bringing the rate down to a projected 375 inspections per Fire Marshal. The part-time position is aimed at helping catch up on inspections, while an analysis is performed on how to improve the steps and technology in the inspections process.

Fire Marshals do generate revenue in the form of fire inspection fees. The fee for an initial inspection is $200 and this includes one re-inspection. Future re-inspections carry a fee of $125 per hour (re-inspections generally take 30 minutes). These rates have remained level since an increase in FY 2014, when initial inspections were raised from $175 and the structure of re-inspection fees were changed but the average price was not. At the current rate, the fees are estimated to produce $350,000 in revenue for FY 2019. The cost of the Fire Marshal program is budgeted at $1,223,470 for a cost recovery rate of 28.6%. The Fire Marshals perform many duties outside of inspections such as investigating fires, monitoring occupancy levels, participating in regional task forces, and conducting educational courses required to maintain inspection and investigation certifications. In order to achieve full cost recovery of inspections, an analysis would need to be undertaken.


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