Columbia County will enter into an agreement with the state Fire Marshal's Office to allow local inspectors to OK buildings for fire codes.
"This is for us to be able to review plans and be able to inspect certain kinds of construction rather than rely (on) the state fire marshal's office to do that inspections," said County Engineer Jim Leiper, who oversees the county inspectors office.
County officials hired a fire marshal -- the county's first ever -- earlier this month. Roy Rogers, a former city of Augusta fire marshal, started last Monday. He was among nine applicants.
"He was the only one that was eminently qualified," Mr. Leiper.
Officials hope the fire marshal's position will lessen state delays on fire safety inspections.
"It can take three months to get the results of a state fire marshal's inspection," said County Administrator Steve Szablewski.
A local inspector could have the results returned within a week.
Seventy-five percent of Mr. Rogers' $28,988 salary will be paid by fees collected from the inspections.
The fire marshal's position was created during a reorganization of the county's building inspections department.
Under the reorganization, both engineering and building inspectors now fall under the county's Engineering Department, headed by Mr. Leiper. John Morgan will oversee the nine county inspectors, including a senior building inspector and a senior engineering inspector. Previously, the engineering inspectors fell under Mr. Leiper's department and the building inspectors were under planning and zoning.
"This probably would have happened if the reorganization would not have occurred," Mr. Leiper said. "We've been talking about it for a while. It was kind of a coincidence."