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Friday, Sep. 19, 2014

Conn new city fire marshal

Friday, July 9, 2004

(Photo)
Sikeston's new Fire Marshal Tom Conn of the Sikeston Department of Public Safety inspects a recent fire scene.
SIKESTON - He won't be a new face at fires, but his point of view will be different: July 1, Sgt. Tom Conn of the Sikeston Department of Public Safety was appointed to the position of city fire marshal.

"He'll have a different role," said Capt. Jim Hailey, fire division commander for DPS. Instead of being there to put the fire out, he said, Conn's job will be to focus on figuring out the fire's cause and origin.

"This is a position that the chief and I have talked about, wanted for a long time," Hailey said. "This is the first time we've had a fire marshal."

"I think the position will add to the safety of the community due to the fact that we have not had an ongoing fire inspection program for a number of years," said DPS Director Chief Drew Juden. "Currently the only time buildings are inspected is when they are new."

With the new position, the city now will be able to "inspect existing structures and make sure they are still in compliance with the code," Juden said.

"We're going to review the city's fire codes," Hailey added. "It's something we'll have to look at and see what the Council wants to do."

While Conn has typically responded to structure fires even when off duty, as fire marshal it will now be all part of his job. "If we have a structure fire, he will be responsible for being there," Hailey said.

Conn's primary responsibility will be to work with arson investigators and cause and origin investigators. Presently, each fire squad has an individual assigned to these duties.

As the fire marshal settles in, the squad positions will not be completely phased out, however. "They will assist him instead of him assisting them," Hailey said.

The city's fire marshal will have other responsibilities as well.

"He will also be the department's fire education and fire prevention officer," Hailey said, "and he will work with our criminal investigation unit for prosecution."

Conn will work closely with code enforcement officers as well, according to Trey Hardy, community redevelopment coordinator.

Hardy said code enforcement officers respond to fires along with DPS to determine whether the damage to the building is severe enough to condemn it or not. Code enforcement officers also have to give the OK for utilities to be hooked back up.

"They'll be working hand-in-hand on several things," agreed Tom Bridger, public works director. "It enhances code enforcement."

Bridger said the city fire marshal will accompany code enforcement officers during some of their building inspections for commercial structures, looking specifically for fire code compliance and issues. Some details, such as fire control sprinkler systems, will be reviewed by both the fire marshal and code enforcement officers, Bridger said.

"It's been a much-needed position," he said.