Chelsea Area Fire Authority Talk Using NFPA Standards

By Lonnie Huhman,

The Chelsea Area Fire Authority Board is starting, in earnest, a process of exploring asking its participating municipalities to put in place some formal standards for new developments.

These standards would ask developers to have their building plans be officially reviewed by the fire inspector.

CAFA Fire Chief Robert Arbini posed the idea to the CAFA board at their Jan. 22 meeting. Arbini said it would be nice to have some similar codes and regulations in place across the area, such as ones established by the National Fire Protection Association –NFPA, so any future developments would be required to design its plans to fit the standards set out about by CAFA and in turn its participating municipalities .

CAFA provides fire, rescue, hazardous materials operations, and non-transport basic life support services to the city of Chelsea and the townships of Lima, Lyndon and Sylvan, and also covers a portion of Dexter Township. Chelsea, Lima, Lyndon and Sylvan each have a representative on the CAFA board.

Arbini emphasized that participation from the municipalities would be strictly voluntary.  However, he said it would be helpful to have everyone on the same page.

Lima Township’s representative on the CAFA board and township supervisor Craig Maier said Lima is on board with using NFPA standards.

As a few examples of what having NFPA standards in place would mean, Arbini said new development designs would be reviewed by the CAFA fire inspector to ensure such things as the proper location for fire hydrants and ensuring there is proper accessibility and ingress/egress for emergency vehicles.

Arbini said, in part, it would be about ensuring new development designs across the CAFA communities would meet the approved standards and regulations.  

The CAFA board seemed to agree that having similar standards across each CAFA community could be helpful, but added it will take some work getting everyone on the same page.

Sylvan’s CAFA representative Kurt Koseck said using NFPA standards makes sense, but each municipality might have different issues that are unique to them, such as already in-place consent judgments with developers, that could make it a challenge implementing.

CAFA board president Tom Osborne said their job is to help make sure safety is ensured, so they should look at the NFPA standards and see which ones might be helpful for their communities.

Overall, NFPA’s codes and standards are intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks.

At this point, CAFA said it can review design plans, but it has no leverage to make sure their recommendations are followed. Chelsea city engineer Christine Linfield, who was at the CAFA meeting, said in the past as the city reviewed design plans, they have kept fire safety in mind.

Arbini just introduced the idea, so the next steps will see CAFA formulate a plan as to how this would look in an effort to present the idea to the CAFA communities for discussion.  

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