Safety made a priority

By Libby John

Because of recent incidents involving nightclub mishaps, the city is looking to make sure local clubs are safe.

At Monday’s city council workshop, Assistant Fire Chief Bruce Harrison said the department recommended to move to conduct annual inspections of nightclubs.

One main issue of concern was to ensure customers’ establishments are safe.

If fire department personnel are allowed into these establishments, they’ll look to see if entrances are open and unobstructed, Harrison said.

He also recommended that customers be informed where exits are in case of an emergency.

Harrison said the fire department does have some rights to inspect buildings, but with a collaborative effort with the city council, it will make a stronger case for the establishments.

“We want to gain access into these venues so they see what we’re looking to do,” Harrison said.

Another recommendation the fire department had was to not allow shows or performers to have any kind of fireworks, unless the building is able to handle it if something went wrong.

Otto’s Niteclub and the Convocation Center are the only venues that have sprinklers.

Community Development Director Paul Rasmussen said they want to make sure establishments meet the basic requirements and then work from there.

Another issue discussed at the meeting was about updating DeKalb’s business codes.

Rasmussen said at the meeting the Building Division’s ISO rating will be downgraded from Class 4 to Class 8 unless changes are made. Class 4 is a good section and Class 8 is just mediocre, he said.

If the downgrading occurs, the result could be increased insurance costs for business and industry.

Rasmussen said the plan was to change codes for different building aspects, such as plumbing, electricity and fire, and have those changes come to council when they have been decided.

He also said the new building codes would be stricter, and they plan to keep the builders and developers up to speed.

Other issues discussed included adding a new T-hanger at the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport. Ralph Tompkins, director of public works, said the ones built so far filled up fast, and there is a waiting list.

Assistant City Engineer Joel Maurer presented plans for a two-lane roadway on South First Street from Taylor Street to Barb Boulevard, which is in need of maintenance attention, he said.

Maurer also presented a review of a three-year street maintenance program.

The program looks to use motor fuel tax funds and TIFF funds to make street improvements during the next three years. Normal Road and Ridge Drive are included to receive improvements.