Audit finds public safety concerns in Nova Scotia Fire Marshal’s Office

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Nova Scotia’s auditor general, Kim Adair, has issued a report stating that the provincial fire marshal’s office is failing to manage fire and building safety, placing the public at risk. The report, which is the third of its kind since 2001, concludes that the fire marshal’s office is not providing adequate oversight of its operations.

Adair’s audit focuses on buildings that serve vulnerable populations, such as hospitals, schools, and long-term care facilities. She found that 40% of fire inspections in these buildings were completed late, with inspections for some facilities delayed by up to 445 business days. The report also notes that the fire marshal’s office does not keep a complete list of buildings that require inspections, nor does it have an archive of reviews of inspections or complaints.

According to Adair, the office’s explanations for missed deadlines, including staff vacancies and the COVID-19 pandemic, could not be verified due to a lack of data and management information. The report calls for a comprehensive review of the office’s organisational structure and recommends that the fire marshal’s office introduce performance standards, implement a fire safety complaint tracking and resolution process, as well as update the fire inspection policy and the list of buildings that require inspections.

Municipal Affairs Minister John Lohr has acknowledged the need to improve administrative processes and assures Nova Scotians that work is underway to address the recommendations made in the report. However, Adair has warned that there is a public safety issue at stake, and urgent action is required to rectify the shortcomings identified in the audit.

This report highlights the importance of ensuring that government agencies responsible for public safety are adequately resourced and that their operations are subject to regular review and oversight. The Nova Scotia government must take immediate action to address the issues raised by the auditor general’s report to protect the safety and well-being of all citizens.

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