by Janet Dabbs
The Rocky Mount Fire Protection District Board of Trustees Wednesday, May 10 endorsed Senate Bill 297, the Dock Electric Bill.
RMFPD Fire Chief Kevin Hurtibise said the bill is likely to pass during the current legislative session.
A copy of the department’s attorney’s memorandum about the bill was distributed to the board, outlining the district’s position.
The act establishes the “Alexandra and Brayden Anderson Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Act,” which requires all property owners with electricity on their docks to have a proper electrical grounding, a bonding system, and a functioning shoreline-to-dock ground fault circuit interrupter.
Beginning Friday, Sept. 15, all newly constructed docks with electricity, all existing dock modifications with electricity, and all changes in ownership of a dock with electricity must be inspected. If the inspection reveals an immediate safety hazard, the dock is to be de-energized by either the inspector or the dock owner, and the dock owner must have necessary repairs completed and a subsequent inspection before power may be reconnected.
The act requires dock permitting authorities to mail to every dock permit holder a notice of annual inspection requirements. A dock permit cannot be issued without written documentation of such inspection.
If anyone finds an immediate safety hazard or unsafe condition, the local fire district or police department is to be notified, and they are to respond to the hazard. If they find a potentially life-threatening condition, they may require the dock owner to de-energize the dock until it is able to pass a safety inspection.
The act requires all primary patrol lake boats operated by the Water Patrol Division of the State Highway Patrol to be equipped with an automatic external defibrillator and staffed by at least one person trained by the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or an equivalent, nationally recognized course in the use of such equipment.
The act also requires all water patrol officers to be trained in rescuing victims of electrocution injuries and the use of external defibrillator devices.
Who is liable?
“We agree with the bill in its intent,” Hurtibise said. “The district would like to see some of the wording changed. It doesn’t say who is responsible for the upkeep of the dock.”
The first version of the bill said AmerenMissoouri and the dock owner would each take on some of the liability for the upkeep of the dock, Hurtibise explained.
“They removed that from the bill,” he said. “I want to know who is liable. If it is not the dock owner or Ameren, is it the fire district?”
Danger to firefighters
Hurtibise also expressed a concern about placing the burden on the fire departments to shut off the power to docks that are deemed a safety hazard.
“If there is not a disconnect on the shoreline, it could injure a firefighter,” Hurtibise said. “It needs to go back on the electric company that is powering the dock to kill the power to the dock.”
Dock wiring inspections
In other board business, board member Chris Wilkerson asked about the dock wiring inspection sheets used by the district for dock inspections, and if any of the information on the form needed to be reviewed and revised.
The form includes the dock number and inspection date, but does not include an arrival time or the time the inspection was completed.
Hurtibise said the check list is a standard form all lake-area fire districts use to complete dock inspections. The form has not been approved by Ameren, but Ameren has a copy and uses it to advertise what is inspected on the docks.
Wilkerson moved to have RMFPD Code Officer Adam Rohwer enter a time in/out box on the last line of the form.
The motion was tabled for 90 days. During that time, Hurtibise is to contact other districts to see if they have a standard time spent on inspections, taking into consideration the size of the dock.
Rohwer will keep track of his time on each inspection. After all the data has been collected, the board will vote on Wilkerson’s motion.
Clarification of position
Following up on a discussion at the board’s April meeting, it was recalled area resident Misty Maeder asked Rohwer if he had credentials as a fire marshal.
Board president Pam Bess and treasurer Chris Wilkerson referred to the district’s statement of operations, which show no reference to Rohwer performing the duties of a fire marshal.
It was also pointed out the chain of command and bylaws say Rohwer is the district code officer, and any reference that stated Rohwer was a fire marshal was incorrect.
Hurtibise said he would work on the standard operating procedures and guidelines to include updated definitions of all job descriptions, including both volunteer and full time employees.
Wilkerson asked that Hurtibise include input from his senior officers.
Hurtibise reported a generator radio system was ordered, and new pagers arrived and are being tested for proper programing before being issued.
He said the district handled 28 calls for service in April.
April revenues totaled $5,665.74, including $3,642.00 permit fees (including renewals), $353.57 refunds from Morgan County for the April election, and $1,970.17 Morgan County taxes.
New permits in April totaled $1,265.50.
The board approved paying the May bills as presented, totaling $36,000.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, district resident Pat McCrady asked for confirmation of the April minutes, which said any expenditure over $10,000 must be open to bid. This was confirmed as correct.
The next meeting of the Rocky Mount Fire Protection District board is scheduled 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 14 at Fire Station 1 in Rocky Mount.