Cold-weather shelter needs sprinklers

MARYSVILLE – Fire Marshal Tom Maloney just wants to make sure our most vulnerable aren’t even more vulnerable.

At last week’s Marysville Area Pastors Association meeting, there was concern about where this winter’s Cold-Weather Shelter would be located because the new Damascus Road Church site on State Avenue does not have sprinklers for indoor fire protection. The city and faith community like to open a shelter when temperatures reach freezing temperatures or below.

The pastors are working with Maloney of the fire district and the city to try to come up with a solution. The pastors said they have the volunteers to staff a facility if the city can help them find a locations with sprinklers.

“We’re trying to find another option for this year,” Mayor Jon Nehring said Tuesday, adding homeless would be more likely to die on the streets than in a fire.

Nehring said he would like to see the community do a major fund-raiser so sprinklers could be installed before next winter.

Maloney agreed. “It benefits the whole community,” he said of the cold-weather shelter.

He said the previous church was told five years ago it needed sprinklers, but that message must not have gotten to the new owners. But Damascus Road was told last December and again in the summer it needed to come up to code. Maloney said Wednesday he had a hard time sleeping because he wasn’t sure what to do. But after reading over the code he developed some parameters that would allow operation of the shelter.

“Not in lieu of sprinklers. They still need sprinklers. But there are options,” he said.

Shelter volunteers have not agreed to the stipulations yet. They haven’t even received the letter as the decision was just made, Maloney said.

Volunteers will need to take special Fire Watch training. Among the things they would learn are how to use a fire extinguisher, do CPR, contact emergency help, and so on.

“The people we are trying to protect are most at-risk here,” Maloney said. “I don’t want to be on CNN” because of a tragedy.

He added the community has a social responsibility not only to help the homeless, but also protect them.

“We need to keep them and others safe in the building,” he said.

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