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Former Fire Marshal Addresses Development Issue

Roger Williams March 5, 2020

Former Salina Fire Marshal Roger Williams is addressing what has become a contentious issue involving a proposed housing development in the area of the Salina Municipal Golf Course.

Williams provided the following message to KSAL News:

To the Citizens of Salina Kansas,

First and foremost, I wish to extend my deepest apologies for all of the time spent on secondary fire department emergency access on the Grand Prairie Development. I have been rather silent on the matter however; the time has come for me to provide my side of the story as you.

I have provided two (2) signed affidavits to the City of Salina regarding this matter in hopes that it would help clarify any confusions surrounding the issues at hand. Unfortunately, they have not appeared to have provide much if any conclusion to this matter. Since my retirement in 2017 I have moved to Texas and no longer reside in Salina Kansas. As such, I not able to attend the meetings or discussions regarding the on-going issues surrounding this phased development project.

Unfortunately, Mr. Justin Hanke has been very accusatory of city staff, all the while playing what I would call a “shell game” with both the City of Salina Planning and City Commissioners. The underlying tone is very obvious if you dust off the smoke and mirrors regarding the secondary emergency fire apparatus access road. The simple fact is that Mr. Hanke has rallied the troops in the subdivision based on his lack of desire for development of patio / townhomes at the end of the subdivision. The thought would be that this part of the development would less than desirable and potentially decrease property values for existing home within the subdivision. So, instead of standing before the planning and city commissioners and express his displeasure with the proposed new development instead he had to come up with something to instill concern and fear to stop the project.

I will not lower myself to the level of Mr. Hanke by name calling and unprofessionalism he has displayed throughout all the meetings. Although I was not in attendance, I have watched the meetings from start to finish. I will, share with you the facts and truth about what transpired during the development review process(s).

The secondary emergency fire apparatus road was NEVER intended to serve as a primary day to day access into and out of the subdivision. So, Mrs. Hodges you stop with the silly Facebook Polls. So why the road you ask? The one thing that was never discussed by Mr. Hanke nor his other professionals was the small but deal breaking topic called “Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems”. Yes, the International Fire Code required that if a development could not provide an acceptable means of a secondary emergency access road, the homes within that subdivision would have been required to have an automatic fire sprinkler system installed. Such a case happened in Manhattan Kansas not once but twice. Grand Bluffs and Scenic Meadows both in Manhattan Kansas were developments that the topography was such that a secondary emergency access road could not be installed and the homes within those two subdivisions were required to provide automatic fire sprinkler systems. But Mr. Hanke nor his “Professional” consultant Mr. Brad Crisp bothered to share that bit of information with you. In the interest of Economic Development, we evaluated all of the options with “Life Safety” being paramount. If you don’t believe me ask Donnie Maars with DMA Architects, Warren Ediger with Ediger Architects, Jeff Gillam and Charles Renz with Jones, Gillam, Renz Architects. I could continue but each of them would support this statement. Life Safety was ALWAYS my number one focus on every single project that crossed my desk. But again Mr. Hanke didn’t bother investigating the truth his show was all about smoke and mirrors and property values. That is why Mr. Hanke’s statement in December 2019 to the Salina Journal is way out of line. “While going through this process I have become increasingly concerned about the city’s transparency and willingness to sacrifice safety in order to make sure developers are able to maximize their profits on land.”

The International Fire Code is wonderful document, is it perfect NO it is not. The wonderful thing about the code is that it can be amended. I was involved in the code adoption / amendment and approval process. That process took nearly two years between meetings with stakeholders, committee members, drafts and re-drafts of proposed amendments presentations to the Building Advisory Board and finally to the City Commission for adoption into ordinance. Mr. Hanke never once talked about that process, had there been a flippant attitude toward the life safety of our community and residents, there would never have been that much time spent on trying to get the best level of fire safety for our community.

The section of the International Fire Code surrounding this whole thing is in the Appendix of the book and is section D107.1. Believe it or not the Appendix is an option to incorporate into the adoption of the code and each appendix must be adopted locally for it to become effective within the local jurisdiction. Mr. Hanke and Mr. Crisp didn’t bother to share that with you either, not to mention that the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s which has adopted the 2006 International Fire Code which by the way the current code is the 2018 International Fire Code made the following state amendments. “(b) international fire code (IFC), international code council, 2006 edition, including the appendices but excluding the following: (1) Chapters 22, 30, 33, 34, 35, 36, and 38; and (2) the references in chapter 45 to NFPA 10, 13, 13D, 13R, 14, 25, 30, 30A, 52, 72, 101, 110, and 385. Was this share with anyone? Nope it was not.

Had Mr. Hanke truly done his research regarding Appendix D107.1 or secondary emergency access requirements, he would have found that many jurisdictions around the country have either not adopted the appendices or have made local amendments to them including increase the number of homes before a secondary access road is required which can simply be done if one really wanted to be educated on the matter. The City of Gallatin TN, made this amendment to Section D107.1, Appendix D Section D107.1 One or two family residential developments is amended to read: “Developments of one- or two-family dwellings where the number of dwelling units exceeds 50 shall be provided with two separate and approved fire apparatus access roads and shall meet the requirements of Section D104.3.” A simple Google Search populates many examples of communities that have amended this specific section of the code. Look for yourself because Mr. Hanke wont, it might blow away his smoke.

Mr. Hanke and Mr. Crisp both stated that the pavers are unsafe and not capable of providing emergency access. Again, Mr. Hanke you are wrong you should get your facts straight before you go headhunting and accusing people of false intentions. The following link is just one example of how these types of paver are approved and used across the country for many purposes including “Emergency Access” sorry, I can make this stuff up especially when it is factual. There are many college campus’, business developments that are using this code compliant alternative when they want to close off streets for student foot traffic. Again a simple Google search would show the facts that Mr. Hanke and his Code Professional Mr. Crisp didn’t want to share with you.

The distance of the road is meaningless as again the facts speak for themselves; Mr. Hanke would have you believe that D103.4 Dead ends. Dead-end fire apparatus access roads in excess of 150 feet (45 720 mm) shall be provided with width and turnaround provisions in accordance with Table D103.4. If you want the table, contact your local Fire Marshal he can provide it to you. The interesting thing about the secondary emergency access road is that it isn’t a dead-end road, it continues throughout the subdivision whereby careful planning was considered in areas of acceptable turn-around locations for our emergency apparatus. That’s why the road looks so different than any other one in the community when it comes to subdivisions. Another careful planning element was in the main entrance drive, it is larger than many wanted but it was determined and agreed that it would provide yet another level of safety should one side become blocked or obstructed. Thus, decreasing the need or likelihood of using the secondary emergency access. But Mr. Hanke didn’t bother sharing that with anyone as it wouldn’t help his cause and that is not wanting the third phase to impact his property values.

I would gladly keep going with the facts, but I think you get the point. The simple fact is the installation of the secondary emergency access road was a solution to the automatic fire sprinkler system installation requirement within the code. The truth is as a community, you can decide what level of safety you are comfortable with. The simple solution to this would be to amend the code and increase the minimum number of homes before a secondary access is required. This would be completely within the allowance of the code adoption process, but Mr. Hanke would not be in favor of that as again, it would deviate from his personal agenda.

In closing, Salina is blessed to have a great fire department with excellent emergency services and extremely dedicated personnel. I wish my circumstance would have been different, so I wouldn’t have had to retire early in 2017. I would much rather be standing at the podium feeling the heat before the commissioners and as such truly educating them on the facts and not being blinded by smoke and mirrors.


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