2016-01-09 / News

Fire chief’s persistence pays off with shorter, safer fence

By Charles Prince


Top: Construction workers carry fence sections along the dam as the construction fence is built out from Lieb’s Island. Left: Every fourth fence section is marked with reflective tape and connected only via a carriage bolt that can be quickly removed for emergency access. Right: The removable sections are not connected to the saddle stands. The saddles are held in place with sandbags. Beacon photos by Charles Prince. Top: Construction workers carry fence sections along the dam as the construction fence is built out from Lieb’s Island. Left: Every fourth fence section is marked with reflective tape and connected only via a carriage bolt that can be quickly removed for emergency access. Right: The removable sections are not connected to the saddle stands. The saddles are held in place with sandbags. Beacon photos by Charles Prince. MILLERSPORT - Thanks to Millersport Fire Chief Bob Price’s persistence, ODNR will meet their commitment to reduce the height of the temporary construction fence being erected along the embankment from six to five feet and to ease access for first responders.

Residents first learned about the fence at ODNR’s Open House last August at Millersport Elementary School. It was described as a six foot high chain link fence designed so people could not climb over it and justified as an OSHA requirement. The fence would be run along the lake-side of the sidewalk in areas with a sidewalk and along the property line in areas without a walk.

The Beacon and others quickly refuted the claim that the fence is required by OSHA regulations. Not only is there no OSHA requirement for a six-foot high fence, if such a requirement did exist it would not apply to ODNR since it is a state agency.

Price quickly raised concerns about access to and from the lake for first responders, and the ability to fight house fires from the lakeside. Since a roadway parallels most the dam, it is one of the most convenient areas to transfer a lake accident victim or patient from a rescue boat to a medic for transportation to the hospital.

Price’s concern about the need to fight a house fire from both the lakeside and the rear was not speculative. Several lakefront homes have been lost to spectacular fires in recent years.

Price pushed for a four-foot high plastic safety fence like ODNR installed around their new dredged material disposal sites. The ODNR-selected Community Advisory Council also asked that the height of the fence be reduced to four feet. ODNR agreed to a five-foot height and showed several designs to Price and Millersport Assistant Chief Rob Robertson. Price and Robertson picked a design that allowed every 12-foot wide fence section to be quickly removed without requiring any tools or exceptional effort.

The Beacon also asked about the fence design in mid-December after finally receiving a copy of ASI’s contract. The contract specifications for the fence included “quick fence disconnect joints spaced every 120 feet.” Stakeholder outreach coordinator Ian Nickey responded, “The design for the fence moving forward will be the design developed in conjunction with Chief Price. The fence will be 5 foot galvanized freestanding construction safety fence panels. The length of the panel will vary to navigate around site constraints and uneven ground, but the typical length of each panel will be approximately 12 feet. The fence will include saddle clamps, carriage bolts and nuts, and panel quick-disconnect fittings, as requested from Chief Price for access by first responders.”

Just before Christmas, ASI workers added about 800 feet to the 100 or so feet installed weeks ago at the start of the dam at Lieb’s Island. This fence was still six feet high with very limited access points. Price told Nickey after Christmas that this design “wasn’t going to work.” He told The Beacon that Nickey said the contractor for their original agreed upon design had backed out. Nickey added that five foot high fence is a special order and that it was expected by the end of January. Price agreed to a revised access design that includes a 12-foot wide quick release fence panel every 36 feet. He also told The Beacon last week, “My patience is wearing thin. I don’t think they understand the seriousness of my side.”

The new five-foot fence panels arrived early this week. The six-foot high fence has been removed and the Lieb’s Island end of the fence extended about 2,000 feet as of Tuesday. Fence installation from the North Shore end of the dam started Wednesday.

This time the fence meets the accessibility agreement reached with Price. Every fourth panel (every 36 feet) is marked with reflective tape on both sides. This panel can be released by pushing up a carriage bolt or just lifting the panel a few inches off the ground (see details in the photos on Page 6).

Nickey told The Beacon Wednesday, “The six foot fence has been removed and installation of five foot fencing has commenced. We are meeting as needed with first responders to address issues as they arise during construction. Security of the construction site and access for first responders in case of an emergency is a priority, so access and entry has been worked out with county and local emergency managers and first responders. Only emergency personnel will have authorization to enter the work site at designated points at regular intervals along the construction fence.”

ASI’s contract lists a cost of $490,000 for 20,000 lineal feet.

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