Editorial: A matter of safety
While it probably qualifies as a "Can You Believe This?" story, what the Worthington City Council heard Monday night was no laughing matter. Brad Chapulis, the city's manager of planning and economic development, explained to council members that...
While it probably qualifies as a "Can You Believe This?" story, what the Worthington City Council heard Monday night was no laughing matter.
Brad Chapulis, the city's manager of planning and economic development, explained to council members that a resident of Viking Terrace had been cited by the State Fire Marshal's office for Minnesota State Fire Code violations the agency had discovered during an inspection conducted in response to a complaint. The inspector found the resident had burning a solid fuel -- charcoal -- in a ceramic container that was not Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-approved. "The inspection report indicated that the building is not appropriately vented to allow for such burning, and that such activity had caused a buildup of smoke in the building and is susceptible to emitting deadly amounts of carbon monoxide," Chapulis told the council.
The state fire marshal ordered the Viking Terrace resident to stop the illegal burning, but -- this is where the silly gets sillier -- the resident got lawyers. Apparently, the resident has taken the position that the burning is part of a cultural ceremony conducted frequently, and that the activities are done in compliance with State Fire Code. The attorneys are seeking a variance that would allow her to conduct the ceremonies again.
After discussions with the city fire chief, public safety director and building official, Chapulis asked the council to go along with a consensus recommendation to deny the variance. Alderman Bob Petrich, a former firefighter, noted he'd had experience with carbon monoxide within his family. Mayor Alan Oberloh was blunter. "Why we would even consider it?" he asked of the variance.
Common sense, thankfully, clearly prevailed. It's just a little sad the council had to even vote on the matter.