Jamie Dukes tried the door handle, throwing his weight against the small metal door that led to the outside of a North Charleston industrial facility.
It wouldn’t move.
Inside the structure, pallets of polyester were stacked more than 6 feet high. A plastics warehousing firm was moving in, and Dukes, a North Charleston fire inspector, was on site to sign off that the property was up to code.
The door worried him. It had to be fixed that day, Dukes told a project manager. An exit from the building couldn’t be rendered useless.
Each year, Charleston-area fire inspectors carry out thousands of visits at new construction sites and existing buildings. Buoyed by a strong economy, area development has expanded at a rapid pace over the past decade and fire departments are faced with a challenge — keeping up with the increasing inspection workload.