The Ludowici/Long County Volunteer Fire Department is starting to perform safety inspections of businesses.
During a May 17 work session of the Long County Board of Commissioners, Chief Chris Moss said one of the department’s two inspectors informed a new restaurant in Sandhills that it needed to purchase $2,800 worth of equipment for a hood system in the kitchen.
That did not please this particular restaurant, which Moss did not name. The chief said the owner called the Fire Department a short time later and reported a nearby restaurant that did not have a hood system.
So Moss sent an inspector to the second restaurant, but the management there turned the inspector away, saying it does not cook food.
Given that situation, Moss asked the commissioners if he has their support going forward with more inspections.
“We’re starting to do inspections on all these restaurants, and we’re going to get them all up to code,” he said. “The one in the Sandhills is asking for a little leeway to get her hood system done. I’m not going to sign off on it.”
That’s because if something were to happen that caused someone to get seriously hurt, Moss said, it would come back to the Fire Department.
“I’m not trying to shut anybody down,” he said. “We’ll give them a little leeway, but this is a brand new business she’s opening. And if we start out wrong, everyone else is going to want us to do the same thing.”
Moss said that existing businesses are grandfathered, but a new business — even one that moves into an existing building, or an existing business that remodels — has to comply with fire codes.
The commissioners expressed support for Moss.
“I think you’re exactly right on your thinking about this,” Commissioner Robert Long said. “They’ve got to be in compliance like everybody else.”