The District now has inspectors who have been trained to conduct inspections of premises and determine the suitability for occupancy in accordance with all applicable city codes, according to Department of Licenses, Investigations and Inspections Director Robert Lewis.

In the past, specialized inspectors from as many as seven different D.C. inspectional units such as zoning, building, housing, fire, electrical, plumbing and environmental health were all involved in determining a premises' safety for occupancy.

The 26 new generalist inspectors have completed a 12-week, milti-disciplinary training program on life safety issues such as interior and exterior structural integrity, means of egress, electrical hazards, wiring, plumbing, fire protection and gas hazards. They are now able to evaluate all the code requirements including the safety provisions applicable to small residences.

The training program is an outgrowth of a directive from Mayor Marion Barry to streamline the city's inspection forces into a single generalist unit to provide timely efficient inspections and to focus on critical life safety issues.

Last year, the District "had accumulated a backlog of some 7,000 Certificate of Occupancy applications," Lewis said, which "highlighted the weaknesses in the city's code enforcement program."

"There is a manifest challenge," Lewis said, "for the District to expand this generalist training comcept to include other use occupanies such as institutions, office buildings, business establishments and apartment complexes."