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Task force meets after Noyes Street fire

A Portland task force looks into code enforcement and fire safety after 6 people died in a fire in November.
Flowers placed outside the yellow tape on Noyes Street.

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Officials in Portland are taking a close look at fire prevention and code enforcement after last month's apartment fire on Noyes Street that killed six people. An 11 member task force on the issues held its first meeting Wednesday.

The task force has an aggressive schedule. It's due to make recommendations to the city council's Public Safety and Health and Human Services Committee in February.

At this meeting, the task force discussed what information it needed to have gathered to make decisions at future meetings. For instance, the Noyes Street fire raised a lot of questions about whether apartments are being inspected frequently enough in the city. Before the task force recommends the city be more proactive in its inspections, members want to know how many apartments there are in the city, and whether it's economically feasible to require regular apartment inspections.

The task force did agree that educating the public on fire safety is important.

Ed Suslovic, who chairs the council's Public Safety and Health and Human Services Committee, said he was confident this task force would work together and come up with some good recommendations.

"Instead of business as usual, it's -- are there some things we can do differently to improve our effectiveness? And ultimately, I think we all have the same goal, which is to make Portland as safe a community as we possibly can," he said.

The task force, which is made up of members of the fire department, code enforcement, landlords, tenants, and the city's housing authority, is expected to meet again next month. Suslovic said there would be ample opportunity for public comment before any proposed changes go before the city council.