In preventive fire protection, safety is the top priority for the Waldeck-Frankenberg district - even though the staffing situation is still not sufficient and the district has therefore been struggling to find personnel for years. At the moment, not all inspections that are prescribed can take place. Therefore, objects such as day-care centres, clinics or old people's and nursing homes as well as hotels and accommodation establishments are currently given priority in the inspections - and are more likely to be inspected than, for example, warehouses or company buildings.
"We know that we are currently not able to carry out the controls to a sufficient extent," says First District Commissioner Karl-Friedrich Frese. Last year in particular, the Corona pandemic had an additional impact on the inspection figures. "That's why we are currently focusing on facilities where, for example, there is a high risk to human life in the event of a fire." Quality takes precedence over quantity here: of course, you can check in ten facilities on one day whether the fire extinguisher is in place so that the control figures on paper are correct. "But we want to produce real safety - and not just bare figures for the statistics.
For this reason, the hazard prevention inspections are currently focussing on facilities where the danger, for example for children, senior citizens or sick people, could be life-threatening in the worst case in the event of a disaster. In large warehouses, for example, the checks only take a few hours, but in a hospital - including preparation and follow-up - they take several weeks. "The sheer number of checks says nothing about the actual scope and quality of the checks.
Last week, however, the number of inspections was publicly criticised by the Free Voters' group in the district council. The First District Commissioner is not surprised that the Free Voters, with Uwe Steuber and Heinfried Horsel at the helm, have recognised the situation, which has been known for a long time, just in time for the local elections. "However, the fact that the Free Voters are playing with people's fear here in order to make their mark on the political stage is a shabby way of campaigning. "And it doesn't fit at all with the other political argumentation of the Free Voters, who always lament about too high personnel costs at the district administration." Moreover, it is disregarded that especially in the area of manufacturing, handicrafts and agriculture, for example, other public bodies, such as the employers' liability insurance associations, also carry out inspections and that internal company monitoring is also important.
The district, however, prefers to concentrate on solving the problem - and is working hard to recruit more experts for the hazard prevention inspections. A position already created in the 2018 budget could only be filled in February 2020 after three advertisements. "This shows how scarce adequate staff are in the field," Frese said. For another newly created post, the selection process currently also has to be repeated because no suitable person could be found. "We are doing everything we can to fill all regular positions as quickly as possible - in order to be able to carry out the controls even better and fully."