Heading off a problem

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 23, 2003

The Ironton Fire Department is taking a proactive approach to try and stop fires before they ever start.

"We want to spend our time preventing fires instead of just fighting them," Chief Tom Runyon said.

Runyon and Fire Inspector Mike Mahlmeister are stepping up the department's fire inspection program by visiting all area businesses to identify potential problems.

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"We are trying to hit every business in town and get a fire inspection done within my first year as inspector," Mahlmeister said.

Mahlmeister was promoted in August, but received his certification in December.

He took over for Jim Monte who was on the force for more than 30 years and had been the city's fire inspector for at least the past 20.

The program got started after he was promoted and have covered probably 60 percent of the businesses in town starting with the higher occupancy buildings such as schools, churches and bars, Mahlmeister said.

Mahlmeister is checking to make sure exits are clear, exit lights are working, fire extinguishers are working, do a spot check on electrical outlets and plates, check for damaged extension cords, sprinkler systems and other potential hazards.

"We do not want to go out on calls that can be avoided," Mahlmeister said. "It will benefit the citizens by protecting their property and will allow the fire department to be more prepared.

"I have had very good cooperation among all the business owners," he said. "For the most part, everyone has been very cooperative with taking care of the corrections.

Any businesses that have not been visited and would like to make a specific appointment time can call the fire department at


In addition to returning every year to make sure everything meets current standard, the department also hopes to use grant money to purchase a computer drafting program to diagram the layout of all the businesses.

Mahlmeister hopes this will be in place by the time the new fire station is completed this winter. This

will allow the firefighters to enter a situation armed with more knowledge to make it safer for everyone, he said.