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Macon Chronicle-Herald - Macon, MO
  • Revamped code proposal retracted

  • In the face of overwhelming opposition, a proposal to modify fire safety codes for the Mid County Fire Protection District was withdrawn by the very member who presented the proposal. A large crowd of firefighters, residents and professionals turned out for the district's regularly scheduled meeting.
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  • In the face of overwhelming opposition, a proposal to modify fire safety codes for the Mid County Fire Protection District was withdrawn by the very member who presented the proposal. A large crowd of firefighters, residents and professionals turned out for the district's regularly scheduled meeting.
    For more than an hour, the board took comments from the crowd. Two wives of Mid County firefighters spoke of how changing the codes would put their husbands in more harm than they are already in. One said that she currently is afraid when her husband heads out to fight a fire and if codes are changed, she will fear even more. Another spoke of how she knew her husband and his fellow firefighters enough to know that if someone is in a burning building, they would go in no matter how the building was built or if it was up to code.
    If codes are changed, sending them into a burning building would increase their chances of not coming it out.
    Others spoke of the responsibility the board has to the residents of the district. "My concern is for the people who cannot protect themselves," said firefighter Jim Wilson, speaking his concern for children and elderly residents in the district. He urged the board to see the big picture when making a decision.
    Other lake area entities were present to urge the board to make the decision that was in the best interest of the public. Osage Beach Fire Protection District Chief Jeff Dorhauer reminded the board that they were "elected to protect" and reminded the board that they did have the authority to adopt codes under Missouri statute.
    A former Mid County board member addressed the board in support of the current codes. "Once you've got it, don't lose it. Don't throw it away," Ralph Franklin said.
    After hearing compelling arguments on why the codes should stay in place, Mike High made a motion to table any discussion on the topic until the board could meet with the Mid County fire marshal and chief and other lake fire entities. High and board member Rod Sederwall were the two fire district officials who proposed the changes.
    Despite the effort to table the discussion, board members made sure their voices were heard. Gary Cuendet told members that he was ready to move past all this discussion.
    "Let's continue on and put this aside," he said. Cuendet's argument was focused on the safety of the residents. He told members that his job as Transportation Director for the Camdenton School district is all about the safety of the kids. As a board member, he wants to do what is best for the safety of the constituents.
    Chairman and attorney Charles McElyea put to rest any doubt that the codes that Mid County currently has in effect are unlawful.
    Page 2 of 2 - "In my legal opinion, the codes we have are legal and we have the authority to do it," he said. McElyea read aloud to the board letters sent by constituents who were unable to attend the meeting all in favor of keeping the codes the same. The chairman asked Fire Marshal Chris Bachman to walk the board through the codes there were currently in effect and how doing away with the codes could affect the district.
    Under the International Building Code, Mid County has adopted 772 commercial and 285 residential topics included in their codes. Each topic includes how to implement the code and what type of material to use. Not all are inspected for when building a structure. The topics are used as a reference guide to make sure the buildings are up to code. The proposed codes totaled 11 residential, five commercial and did not include any explanation on how to maintain the code or any exceptions which the International code includes.
    Bachman made a presentation to the board and attendees about the codes that are currently in place by showing photos of ways codes have been met and times when codes were not met. He also pointed out that under State Statute 67.280, a code is "any published compilation of rules prepared by various technical trade associations, federal agencies, this state or any agency thereof."
    Nowhere in the statute does it state that a district board can write their own codes. If the district were to adopt the new codes, they could be under fire for illegal action.
    After hearing what the public and other board members had to say, High rescinded his original proposal.
    "Our codes that are presently in effect remain in effect," Chairman McElyea said.
    Cheers and applause came from the crowd. The move by the board brought to a close weeks of speculation.
     
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