FMO Code Compliance team focuses on keeping students, staff safe

In the course of just one day, Code Compliance team members receive a variety of calls — reports of broken elevators, overflowing trash receptacles, and even fire code violations.  

But for the eight-member team, it’s all in a day’s work. 

“It’s about life safety,” said Code Compliance Area Manager Anne Washington, who leads the team. “We’re behind the scenes, but our job is to make sure that we are in compliance with fire codes so that in an emergency, the staff and students can get out of the building safely.” 

Part of HISD’s Facilities, Maintenance, and Operations, the Code Compliance team is tasked with ensuring the district is complying with all fire codes and hazardous waste disposal regulations. 

The team is made up of Washington, a permit and inspection team lead, two fire code compliance representatives, a hazardous waste disposal compliance representative, and three vendor representatives. They work closely with the cities of Houston, Bellaire, Jacinto, and West University Place. 

Permit and Inspection Team Lead Yolanda Mathis said the Code Compliance team doesn’t hesitate to work together. 

“They’re just really awesome,” Mathis said. “There’s nothing I can ask them that they won’t come to my rescue.” 

Fire code compliance representatives often walk with city fire marshals as they inspect a building so they can immediately address any issues, Washington said, noting that the strong relationships have led to a noticeable reduction in the number of citations issued to the district.  

The team also maintains operational permits and stormwater permits, routinely processing over 1,600 permits per year. Two months before a permit expires, Code Compliance vendor representatives begin gathering the necessary documents for renewal, filling out the application and submitting the paperwork and payment to the corresponding city.  

When the new permit is ready, they pick it up and update the database. They also coordinate on-site inspections with the respective agency, if it’s required by the permit. 

Additionally, Code Compliance coordinates solid waste and recycling removal services for campuses, maintains inspection databases for permits and compliance documents, handles on-site elevator repairs, and responds to campus compliance issues.  

“We put out one fire and go to the next one,” Washington said. “I wouldn’t give it up for the world. There’s a wealth of knowledge in this department. We’re a hidden treasure.”