Manitoba’s Streamlined Inspection, Permit Services to Improve Commercial, Residential Building Safety: Howard

Feb 10, 2011 | Government News

Office of the Fire Commissioner Expands Public Safety Role 

Technical safety inspections and related licence and permit services will be streamlined and improved as Manitoba’s Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) assumes the operation of the Mechanical and Engineering Branch from Manitoba Labour and Immigration, Labour and Immigration Minister Jennifer Howard announced today. 

The Honourable Jennifer Howard

“By expanding inspections we will improve public safety,” Howard said.  “We will also create a one stop shop for inspections and licences, which will benefit building owners with a more efficient and timely permit process.”

The OFC will provide a single-window for engineering and technical safety services when evaluating permit applications or new projects, making the process simpler for builders and contractors.  The ability for inspectors to problem solve and discuss special inspection issues will create a strong inspection services program, which over time will result in improved services for clients provincewide, said Howard.  The OFC will also bolster the number of inspectors on staff including increasing the number of elevator inspectors, enabling more inspections to be done every year. 

“We will also begin cross-training inspection staff for an improved inspection process and less duplication in visits by inspectors,” said fire commissioner Chris Jones.  “The streamlined licensing and examination processes will be delivered by the Manitoba Emergency Services College, which will ensure that public safety remains a top priority.”

This new section of the Office of the Fire Commissioner will be responsible for:

  • building permits and inspections;
  • plumbing permits and inspections;
  • fire inspections;
  • RV and mobile-home inspections;
  • boiler, pressure vessel and refrigeration plant inspections;
  • gas and oil-fired equipment inspections and permits;
  • electrical application inspections;
  • elevator and amusement ride inspections;
  • licensing of power engineers, welders, gas fitters and electricians;
  • quality assurance reviews of certain engineering plans and decisions; and
  • quality assurance program reviews for pressure equipment, pressure piping manufacturing and installation.

A review of the legislative framework for these technical safety services is now underway.  The Office of the Fire Commissioner will also strengthen the system of advisory committees to ensure external expert input and advice on technical and operational issues.  In addition, the OFC will undertake software upgrades that will help staff better co-ordinate inspection visits prior to permit expiration dates, said the minister. 

In 2009-10, approximately 14,000 inspections were undertaken and approximately 35,000 licences, permits or education certificates were issued. 

The OFC is a special operating agency responsible for provincial emergency response, fire investigations and providing an internationally accredited training, licensing and examination process through the Manitoba Emergency Services College.  The OFC is also responsible for building, plumbing and fire code inspections in all areas of the province.  It will now be responsible for ensuring all inspections provided within the technical safety services and building safety programs.

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