The role of FOG (Fats, Oils, and Grease) inspectors is often overlooked until something goes wrong. These professionals work tirelessly in the field of environmental compliance, ensuring the safety and sustainability of our water systems.
This blog post aims to shed light on the crucial work of FOG inspectors, drawing from the experiences and insights of Larry Ryder, a FOG inspector from the Regulatory Compliance Division of DeKalb County’s Department of Watershed Management.
The Role of FOG Inspectors
FOG inspectors are typically assigned to specific zones within a county or city. They conduct annual inspections of Food Service Establishments (FSEs) within their assigned zones. The goal of these inspections is to ensure that FSEs are managing their FOG correctly and to identify and address any potential issues before they lead to problems such as blockages and Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs).
During inspections, FOG inspectors check for compliance with various requirements. For example, in DeKalb County, Georgia, all FSEs must have a Grease Control Device (GCD), and the county requires a 30-90 day cleaning cycle using a licensed hauler.
FOG inspectors also play a crucial role in enforcing regulations. They have the authority to issue warnings and citations for non-compliance. In some cases, violations can result in fines or even jail time. This enforcement role is critical in maintaining the integrity of the water systems and ensuring public safety.
The Importance of FOG Inspectors
FOG inspectors are essential for preventing SSOs, which can have severe environmental and public health impacts. In DeKalb County, for example, FOG was responsible for 57% of SSOs in 2014. However, thanks to the efforts of the county’s FOG inspectors, this figure had dropped to under 52% by the time of the webinar.
FOG inspectors also play a crucial role in educating FSEs about the importance of FOG management and compliance. By working closely with FSEs, inspectors can help them understand the potential impacts of non-compliance and provide them with the information and resources they need to manage their FOG effectively.
Key Takeaways from DeKalb County’s FOG Program
DeKalb County’s FOG program offers valuable insights into the effective management of FOG. The county is broken into zones, each assigned to an inspector. FSEs get inspected annually – the goal is to get to an FSE three times annually, but this is usually not feasible due to the sheer number of establishments.
DeKalb County has specific FOG requirements. All food-serving establishments must have a GCD. If they are remodelling or expanding, they’ll need a bigger GCD. If there are blockage hotspots, citizen complaints, or a change of ownership, the inspectors will return to conduct another inspection.
The county uses a permit system. Applications must be completed, and there must be a proper installation of a GCD that complies with the ordinance before the receipt of the permit. Interior traps must be metal and connected to all discharge points. Mechanical GCDs are not allowed. The county requires a 30-90 day cleaning cycle using a licensed hauler. FOG must not exceed 5% of the total capacity.
Exterior traps must be concrete (due to rust) with two or more manholes and at least a 1000-gallon capacity, but not over 3000 gallons per trap. A 90-day cleaning cycle is required in most cases. The county uses a sludge judge to measure FOG levels, which mustn’t exceed 10% of total capacity. Service manifest information must be current and available for three years.
DeKalb’s Inspection Process
DeKalb County has a thorough inspection process. Pre-installation and post-installation inspections are conducted, and a dye test is used in post-inspections. Once completed and fees have been paid, a permit is issued.
Regular drop-in compliance inspections are performed where inspectors inspect the entire facility. Inspectors have badges to show as they are sworn compliance officers. If they have to show this badge, they’ll likely have to give a court citation. They’ll issue warnings first for overdue pump-outs and permit renewals. Citations can range from $250-to-1500 per citation or even 30 days in jail. SSOs result in an immediate court citation because it’s a public health issue.
The role of FOG inspectors is critical in maintaining the health and safety of our communities. They work tirelessly to ensure that FSEs comply with regulations, prevent blockages and SSOs, and educate establishments about the importance of FOG management. Their work is a testament to the importance of environmental compliance in safeguarding our water systems.