Challenges ahead for Marysville cold weather shelter program

The fire marshal came up with guidelines in lieu of fire sprinklers.

By Steve Powell / The Marysville Globe

MARYSVILLE — A cold weather shelter to help the homeless this winter is facing challenges.

The Damascus Road Church, as it has for many years, had planned to run it again this year. But it changed its mind once the fire marshal said it had to put sprinklers in the building. The fire marshal later said he would allow Damascus Church to host it this year, but only if volunteers received fire watch training, among other conditions.

Chaplain Greg Kanehen said he is contacting three other churches to see if they could host it.

“It’s disappointing. We’ve exhausted our resources,” he said.

In the meantime, the Salvation Army will try to help. It can take 25 people at its shelter in Everett. Arlington and Snohomish shelters also will be asked to assist, Kanehen said.

Fire Marshal Tom Maloney came up with some guidelines so there could be a shelter this winter, said Gloria Hirashima, the city’s chief administrative officer.

“It’s minimal stuff. The standard is not tough to meet,” she said.

The guidelines, in lieu of fire sprinklers, include:

A fire watch must include a log indicating staff had inspected for fire at least every 15 minutes.

Fire extinguisher locations, an evacuation plan and posted exits, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors or automatic fire alarm system.

The shelter must be adequately separated from any hazards. No flammable plastic, curtains or other materials shall be used to separate individual sleeping areas.

All staff must have fire extinguisher training, with at least one member trained in CPR.

Except for warming of food, no cooking is allowed unless performed in a kitchen equipped with certain safety features.

There shall be no open flames, smoking, incense or candles in or within 25 feet of the shelter.

Hirashima said the guidelines also show if these conditions are met, the fire sprinklers requirement could be delayed for up to five years.

This story originally appeared in The Marysville Globe, a sibling paper of The Daily Herald.

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