Fire & Life Safety Inspections, Audit No. 1908

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The Fire & Life Safety Division of the Scottsdale Fire Department division reviews building plans and inspects construction, existing buildings and other sites to ensure that they comply with the City’s Fire Code. In fiscal years 2016/17 and 2017/18, the division performed more than 20,000 inspections. 

Our audit found that the department is not achieving its goal of completing annual Target inspections of higher-risk sites in the City and is not performing Safety Surveys every three years at lower-risk sites. According to Fire & Life Safety, the division completes approximately 48% of annual Target inspections per year. However, only 6 of the 38 sample target sites we selected, or just under 16%, had received annual Target inspections.

We also found issues with the inspection program information management. 

The department uses the Fire Prevention System to track commercial buildings and other sites, but the system contains unreliable and outdated information. Of the 87,000 listings in the system, approximately 10,000 were duplicates and at least 1,700 were single-family homes, which are not subject to inspection.  This makes it hard for management to evaluate whether departmental goals are achievable or effective. 

The department has not completed a risk assessment of target properties since 2009. Many locations identified then as target sites have since changed usage or no longer exist, and newer properties have not been included in a risk assessment. 

Also, the department was only recording third-party inspections that noted deficiencies and was disposing of all the reports received. The City requires non-residential properties to have fire alarms, sprinklers, and other fire suppression items checked annually by third-party inspectors, and they are required to submit these reports to the Fire Department. Maintaining records of all these third-party inspections could be useful in the department’s risk assessment process. The department is currently working to contract this reporting process to receive and maintain all the reports electronically.

Our audit also found that some users had unnecessary access to the Fire Prevention System, refunds did not include all required documentation, and the division was planning to enter into a contract that imposed a fee without having gone through the required rate approval process. That contract has now been delayed in order to meet this requirement.


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