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Three highly certified firefighters
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Being proactive to prevent fires is better than reactive to suppress them. McMinnville Fire Department is offering both those services to the community in an effort to save lives, protect structures and educate the public. Three firefighters now have level two certification as building inspectors to make sure structures meet fire code. Pictured, from left, are firefighter Lt. Jim Sanders, Chief Kendall Mayfield, firefighter Capt. Marty White and firefighter Clint Walker. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

McMinnville Fire Department achieved a new accolade in February. It is home to three of the state’s 35 Tennessee Certified Code Inspectors to achieve level two training.

Fire Chief Kendall Mayfield shared distinction with city officials. 

“I’m going to brag a little bit,” said Mayfield. “We’ve had two more firefighters attend training and they passed. Now we’ve got three Inspector Twos at the fire department. Over the whole state of Tennessee, there’s only 35. We’ve got three out of 35 in McMinnville.” 

Tennessee Fire and Codes Academy provides a Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy. Second level training is open to firefighters who complete level one. Inspector firefighter Clint Walker completed a second level of training in 2019. 

Lt. Jim Sanders and Capt. Marty White followed this year. All three now have Inspector 2 status. 

“To us, it means a whole lot,” said Mayfield. “It means they can go and look at proposed plans of new buildings being constructed in the city and determine if all the state’s fire codes are met. If changes need to be made, they can suggest those before construction begins.”

Sanders said this training allows the department to be proactive when it comes to fire prevention. 

“Fire prevention can start at the blueprint,” said Sanders. “Each of us can review blueprints. We can make sure everything meets fire code right from the beginning to make sure everything is done right. It’s easier to fix issues on the forefront before the project begins.” 

The class will test a person’s fortitude to succeed. 

“I’ve got a four-year college degree, but this was the hardest class I’ve ever been through,” said Sanders.

White agreed, “It was just so much information. There were a lot of NFPA codes and standards that we had to learn in a very short amount of time.”

National Fire Protection Association develops, publishes, and disseminates more than 300 consensus codes and standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire.

The department has two more firefights with level one training. While the second level of training allows Sanders, White and Walker to inspect plans for future construction, all five can inspect existing buildings to determine fire code compliance. 

Almost 300 existing structures have been inspected. Sanders says business owner response to being inspected has been favorable. 

“The majority of the business owners have really been glad that we are there doing this,” said Sanders. “They want to know if they’re doing something wrong that might cause a fire. We go in and inspect, provide them a list of issues, give them time to make changes and go back and inspect again. Most of them were unaware that they were doing something wrong. I think these inspections have been a positive thing all the way around.” 

For more information about the inspections or to inquire about a possible fire code violation, the department can be reached at 931-473-3435.