12 chuckhodges copyThe town of Hope Mills is looking for a new fire marshal and hopes to have one in place by the end of July.

“Pretty much every municipality has its own fire marshal or they have to contract with the county,’’ said Hope Mills fire chief Chuck Hodges, adding the town has had its own fire marshal since the early 1990s.

Currently, a part-time assistant fire marshal is handling most of those duties, which include inspecting local businesses and buildings for their adherence to fire codes.

But the assistant is only qualified to do what are called level one and two inspections. Hodges said they need someone full-time who has complete training and certification to do higher level inspections, known as level three, for larger businesses like Lowe’s and Walmart.

There are people on the current staff, Hodges said, including himself and the deputy chief, who are certified to do the higher level inspections. “With as much construction and building as there is going on in Hope Mills, we don’t have the time to do it,’’ Hodges said.

That’s why it’s important that the town get a full-time fire marshal on board.

In addition to doing business inspections, Hodges said the new fire marshal will, in many ways, become the most familiar public face of the fire department in the community.

The fire marshal is charged with educating the public on the topic of fire safety.

“If there is a civic group or fire prevention class, they will be the ones who coordinate that,’’ Hodges said of the fire marshal.

He said the fire marshal plays a major role during fire prevention month, which is typically held during October, in conjunction with the anniversary of the 1871 Great Chicago Fire.

“They do public relations functions where it comes to fire and life safety,’’ Hodges said. “Public speaking skills are a plus.’’

When it comes to relating with business owners about fire safety issues, Hodges said the ultimate goal is to make all businesses in the town safe for both patrons and employees.

In a roundabout way, it’s also designed to make it safer for the firefighters should they ever have to respond to a situation at a local business.

“If they are complying with code, it makes it safer for us to respond,’’ he said.

In addition to public relations skills, the fire marshal will also have to have command capability. “If I’m gone or the deputy chief is gone, the fire marshal is the next in charge,’’ Hodges said.

Hodges indicated the new fire marshal will likely come from outside the current staff as no one qualified and currently on board has expressed a serious interest in the position.

“It’s an important job, for everybody,’’ Hodges said. “It reduces the risk and adds to the quality of life for the people who live in the town.

“It’s rare they’re going to go into a business in town that’s not safe.’’

To apply for the fire marshal job, go to www.townofhopemills.com/jobs.aspx.

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