The problem of lagging inspections is one that we’ve seen frequently over time. We’ve written about this issue in the past – in an August 9, 2021 Route Fifty column, titled “How Local Governments Can Prevent Building Disasters,” a January 24, 2017 Governing column called “From Food to Buildings, Safety inspections are Lagging,” and in this October 5, 2022, B&G Report, “Lagging Inspections: Will We Never Learn?”
Here it was again in a September 20, 2023 sunset review of the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, where a highlight report opened with this statement:
Department has not established statutorily required fire safety inspection program, implemented recommendations to help Arizona communities with wildfire planning, or developed complaint-handling process, increasing the risk of fire-related deaths, injuries, and property damage.
About the same time, the federal Office of Inspector General for the US Department of Health & Human Services lambasted New Jersey nursing homes for lack of attention to the deficiencies it found in its own onsite inspections, where it identified multiple problems “related to life safety, emergency preparedness, or infection control at all 20 nursing homes we audited, totaling 363 deficiencies.” Specifically, that amounted to 148 life safety deficiencies, 152 regarding emergency preparedness and 63 concerning infection control.
There may be lots of reasons for inspections that lag requirements that are written into the law. Why that happens requires a re-examination of manpower, resources, prioritization practices and inspection results, including attention to enforcement and correction of problems that could result in tragedy when left unaddressed.