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Fire codes for residential day cares absent from city ordinance, to be added soon

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For years, the Dickinson Fire Department's fire codes for day cares in residential dwellings have been absent from city ordinance, a fact brought to the city commission at a workshop meeting.

Every three years, fire departments in towns across the nation review and update their fire codes. The Dickinson Fire Department, like many others nationally, adopts the International Fire Code, but they can make changes to it.

"In order to make any changes to the fire code, we have to do it in city ordinance. Chapter 13 of city ordinance is all fire code. Changes and amendments and any additions are all in that chapter 13," explained Mark Selle, fire marshal.

The standards used by the fire department for home day cares have been in place as long as either Selle or Fire Chief Bob Sivak can remember.

"Part of the issue is that we have day cares in residential homes, and our code doesn’t really address single-family dwellings when you get to the fire code — it’s more commercial building style," Selle said.

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Through research and help from the state fire marshal, building code official and Stark County Social Services, Selle found a code section in the International Building Code that deals with day cares in a residential home — Appendix M.

The code calls for day cares in residential dwellings to have interconnected smoke alarms.

"It talks to you and you can hear if something happens in the basement; it can let you know upstairs. It’s all about getting the kids out as fast as possible," Selle said.

Selle said the department has yet to determine what to do with existing day cares in residential dwellings that don't already have interconnected smoke alarms.

"For the most part, what it’s going to be is an upgrade from battery-operated smoke alarms to interconnected backed up smoke detection," he said. "When we do our inspections this year, we’re going to keep track of which ones actually have battery-operated only, and make our determination from there, what we’re going to do with the existing day cares."

Some of the other existing requirements for residential day cares were in chapter 7, the building code, of the city ordinance.

"They (building code official) would catch them on the initial, when the (proposed) day care started, but they weren’t going back annually like we have to go back. In order for a daycare to get licensed, they require for us (fire code official) to come do an inspection," Selle said.

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