Two local motels are charged with failing to install fire alarms

Friday, September 14, 2012 | 7:47 p.m. CDT; updated 7:24 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Five Columbia motels don’t meet fire code because they lack manual fire alarms, or the ones they have aren’t loud enough, according to the Columbia Fire Department. They face up to 90 days imprisonment and fines from $1 up to $1,000 per day per offense.

COLUMBIA — The city of Columbia charged two motels — The Deluxe Inn and America's Best Value — on Aug. 30 for failing to install manual fire alarms.

They are among seven motels found non-compliant with the international fire code after an inspection last year, said Columbia Fire Marshal Brad Fraizer. The motels were given one year after Aug. 25, 2011, to make the necessary adjustments.

"There was a one-year time frame for them, which is what we considered reasonable," Fraizer said. "We weren't wanting to fine them, but we're confused why they haven't complied."

None of the five motels had responded to phone calls by the time of publication.

Two of the original establishments cited, Super 7 and Motel 6, have since complied, but the other five are currently in violation of a city ordinance related to fire code non-compliance.

The seven motels that the city notified of noncompliance last year were these:

  • America's Best Value Inn, 1718 N. Providence Road
  • Deluxe Inn, 2112 Business Loop 70 E.
  • Red Roof Inn, 201 E. Texas Ave.
  • Days Inn, 1900 Interstate 70 SW
  • Travelodge, 900 Vandiver Drive
  • Super 7 Motel, 1306 Rangeline St.
  • Motel 6, 1800 Interstate 70 SW

The problem at each motel was either a lack of manual fire alarms or an insufficiently loud fire alarm.

They are misdemeanor violations of two city ordinances (sections 9-21 and 9-22), which also violate Chapter 46 of the International Fire Code. According to City Prosecutor Steven Richey, the other three motels are being reviewed for compliance.

Richey said the problem is addressed in two ways simultaneously. "The fire department continues to work with the hotels toward compliance and brings us the probable cause statement so that we can file the necessary charges," he said.

The state then makes a sentence recommendation to the judge, who will apply it based on motel and fire department statements about what they're doing to comply. The city ordinance violations carry fines of between $1 and $1,000 and/or up to 90 days imprisonment.

The specific fire code, chapter 4603.6.5.1, specifies that hotels or motels with 20 rooms or more must install manual pull systems with specific decibel levels.

The fire department was unable to specify which of the motels in question did not have fire alarms and which simply had alarms without the proper noise level.

"There was a range of violations with some hotels not possessing the systems and others that didn't have the proper decibel levels," Fraizer said.

He estimated the cost of installing fire alarm systems at $10,000-$15,000. He expressed dismay that the motels still haven't complied.

"We just can't look the other way when we've got a property in Columbia that is not complying with fire code," he said.

Missourian reporter Arthur Bremer-Cook contributed to this article.

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