Fire Department finds thousands of Columbus buildings uninspected

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The Columbus Division of Fire has discovered thousands of building that should have been inspected by firefighters but were not.

The department changed software last summer. The change revealed 158,000 new addresses that were not already in their database. A team of 14 firefighters set to identify those addresses and find the buildings that slipped through the cracks.

As of May 2017, the investigation revealed 15,000 buildings, roughly one in 10 were not inspected. Fire inspectors should have been visiting those buildings once a year making sure they were in compliance with fire code, but they didn't know they existed.

Within the buildings, they've identified about 10,000 are apartment buildings that have not been inspected for code compliance. A building being up to code includes updated fire extinguishers and working smoke detectors in common areas. Firefighters say it's making public safety a top priority.

"Thank goodness we're able to identify these buildings that we've been missing all this time. And it's one of those things, we didn't know that we didn't know it" Battalion Chief Steve Martin, Columbus Fire said.

One such building firefighters located is 15 West Cherry Street. It was built in 1956 before modern fire codes and it was never inspected until firefighters went to check it out. Sandwiched between parked cars and a paint shop on the 4th floor, firefighters discovered renters living in apartment lofts in a building that could only be described as a potential death trap in case of a fire.

"It did not have proper smoke alarms, sprinklers, automatic exits, and lighting," Chief Martin said.

Firefighters emphasize buildings they consider high risk; high rise, restaurants, hotels are in the database because firefighters must sign off on code compliance before they can open their doors.

The Columbus Fire Department's investigation has already positively identified more than 5,000 buildings that should have been receiving inspections. View that list here.

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