Board members defend fire chiefs

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RBC — Rio Blanco County commissioners heard requests from Rangely and Meeker fire district board members, asking them not to adopt the 2006 edition of the international fire code.
The commissioners were appointing initial members to a commission, a first step in revising the county’s fire code, but a typographical error made the agenda read as though the commissioners were voting to adopt the international fire code.
“You’re moving too fast,” Rick Brady, a member of the Rangely District Fire board, said. “There is no formal enforcement officer in the county to enforce the code. Our two towns have adopted fire codes and our fire chief has a full time job.” Chuck Whiteman, a member of Meeker’s Fire District board, agreed with Brady.
“We don’t want to put this on our fire chief, he’s a volunteer,” Whiteman said.
According to RBC attorney Kent Borchard, both fire chiefs — Mike Cushman from Rangely and Steve Allen from Meeker — must be on the commission to comply with statutes. The commissioners appointed Allen and Cushman, along with themselves, at the meeting.
“We have to make progress,” Commissioner Ken Parsons said. More people will be appointed to the commission.
Dave Morlan, director of the RBC Road and Bridge department, reported his crew has been “Plowing, plowing, plowing and plowing,” county roads.
“The crews have done a super job,” Morlan said. Morlan also reported road restrictions on RBC Road 5 and 7 will start soon. Three monitors will be used on RBC 5 and two on RBC 7 to determine when the thaw begins.
“Historically in the last 20 years, the thaw can begin in mid-February and last through mid-June,” Morlan said after the meeting. “Last year it started March 15 and it was March 1 in 2006.”
Because RBC 5 does not have a gravel base, moisture is collected in the sandy base, causing a thawing season.
“It depends on how wet the fall was and last year we had a lot of moisture,” Morlan said. “The probes tell us when the roads are most vulnerable, tell how much the road can handle and determine the period and weight restrictions. The weight restrictions are a hardship on everyone and we try to minimize the period by monitoring them with the probes.”
Ice jams are threatening the bridge on RBC 5 at the junction of State Highway 64. Morlan told commissioners it was being monitored several times a day. A detour route will be discussed if the need arises.