|“I just have a passion for code development, fire protection and property protection. It’s in my blood.”|
Whether coaching a youth traveling hockey team or a local businessman on the best way to fireproof his store, Rob Drexler does it with passion.
That passion, specifically for the need for the right codes to protect his community, led Drexler, the Fire Marshal for Greece, New York, to election as a Director on the International Code Council Board.
As Fire Marshal, Drexler serves as a liaison between the town and its four Fire Districts with responsibility to provide the town’s fire prevention program. He is proud that proactive programs — including some 4,000 inspections a year—have kept the fire rate low in Greece, a city of 96,000 in upstate New York. Larger businesses include Eastman Kodak, IBM, Johnson & Johnson and a large shopping mall.
“The biggest challenge right now is the economy,” said Drexler. “Business owners would rather put money in other areas than fire prevention.”
But he and his staff of one full-timer and two part-timers have a 95 percent success rate and cooperation from local business owners for complying with fire codes.
“I’d say for the most part residents in Greece respect and understand fire prevention,” he said.
That’s something to which Drexler has devoted much of his life. Born and raised in Greece, he started off his career by studying construction technology at Canton Agriculture and Technology College. He already was working in construction, and he continued to do so after graduation. Always trying to find ways to help his community, Drexler saw the Greece Ridge Fire Department was looking for volunteers, so he joined.
An ad in the local paper got him to apply for a building inspection aide for Greece, basically a counter position where he would be looking at plans to make sure they were up to code. Still with the fire department, Drexler enrolled for night classes in the fire protection degree program at Monroe Community College.
After graduation, the Fire Marshal at the time noted Drexler’s passion for making sure residents followed the codes and asked him to come on board in 1990. That Fire Marshal obviously found the right guy, because Drexler moved up to Assistant Fire Marshal and Deputy Fire Marshal before taking over the department in 2000.
As Fire Marshal, Drexler assists in investigating the cause, origin and circumstances of fires involving injury, loss of life or substantial property damage. He also provides leadership to Assistant Fire Marshals and Building Inspectors on code enforcement including fire safety enforcement, education, inspections and plan review.
Trying to stay proactive, Drexler’s duties also include public speaking on fire prevention, fire detection systems, fire protection equipment and evacuation procedures, and developing fire prevention education materials.
About the time he became Fire Marshal, Drexler noticed that Greece and its four fire districts would be much better off with the ICC’s family of codes. The I-Codes were much more detailed than the New York State codes they had been using, he said, and Drexler was amazed at the level of input the ICC allowed its members into the ever-evolving code adoption process.
“We’re the people who use the codes,” Drexler said. “The ICC allows participation by the professionals.”
That participation included moving up from ICC’s local Chapters to involvement ultimately on the national level with his election to the Board.
“I just have a passion for code development, fire protection and property protection,” Drexler said. “It’s in my blood.”
Drexler lives in Greece with his wife, Tammy. They have two adult children, Deanna and Bobby. He loves sports, especially hockey – which he has coached – and enjoys working out to stay in shape.
As well as an ICC Board Director, Drexler is Co-Chair of the New York State Code Coalition to Protect and Preserve Our Communities, and the Monroe County Fire Marshals Association Delegate to the New York State Building Officials Conference.