By Chris Hendrickson, Monroe Monitor
New Monroe Police Officer Joe Stark was sworn in before city council on Tuesday, June 4.
Monroe Police Chief Tim Quenzer introduced Stark and his family to city staff and council. Officiating the ceremony was longtime Evergreen District Court Judge Steven Clough.
Judge Clough spoke briefly, telling Stark that he has lived in Monroe for over 50 years and has had interaction with the Monroe Police Department as a citizen, a lawyer and a judge.
“You are about to join one of the finest, most professional police organizations that I’ve run across during these years,” said Clough.
Stark’s career with the Monroe Police Department began on July 9, 2012. He graduated from the police academy on Jan 31, 2013 and recently finished his field training assignment.
A graduate of Bellevue College, Stark lives in Kirkland with his wife Gretchen and their 13-month-old adopted son, Brett Lee.
“I appreciate the opportunity to serve the fine city of Monroe,” said Stark.
STUDENT COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVE HARANO HONORED
Student representative Brandon Harano was given a certificate of achievement for his participation with city council as Monroe’s first-ever student representative.
Having now graduated from Monroe High School, Harano will head for the San Diego campus of the University of California in the fall.
Councilman Jim Kamp presented Harano with the certificate.
“Brandon, it’s been an honor to work with you on this,” said Kamp.
CITY STAFF NOT FAVORABLE TO INTERNATIONAL FIRE SPRINKLER CODE
City Council discussed a revision of the 2012 building codes that would potentially include adopting Appendix S, which is the International Residential Building Code stipulation that mandates residential fire sprinkler systems in all new construction. The current recommendation of city staff is not to adopt Appendix S.
The adoption of Appendix S would mandate that all new one- and two-bedroom homes built in the city have residential fire sprinkler systems installed.
City staff stated that this would add substantial cost to developers, which is why they are recommending that council not adopt the appendix.
Economic Development Manager Jeff Sax stated that the added cost of sprinkler systems in new construction would possibly range from $5,000 to $12,000; costs which would then be forced upon the buyer.
Monroe Fire Marshal Michael Fitzgerald was present to answer questions about residential fire sprinkler systems. Fitzgerald presented council with a letter advocating for residential sprinkler systems, including data and videos that show the effectiveness of these systems during a fire.
“It is the opinion of the fire district that contractors and developers should invest in our community. They invest when they pay for water capital improvements and impact fees for schools, parks, and transportation. The fire district has never received impact fees, and feels that a requirement of fire sprinkler protection is a strong investment in our community,” stated Fitzgerald.
Councilman Tom Williams is opposed to the potential adoption of Appendix S and has discussed the issue with developers. He voiced his concerns to council.
“If we did it in Monroe, and people around us didn’t do it, it suddenly makes Monroe a more expensive place to build,” said Williams.
“I think that a lot of people assume that if you keep tacking stuff onto the builder that they’re just going to pay it, that magically that money just comes from somewhere,” he continued.
Williams stated that, in reality, the added cost of the sprinkler systems would simply equate to cutting costs in other ways, which would not necessarily constitute a better quality home.
He also voiced concerns over water issues. If a resident neglected to pay their water bill, resulting in the city shutting off their water, would the city then be liable if there was a fire and the sprinkler system was rendered ineffective?
“It seems like it’s a big can of worms that I’m just not interested in tackling,” said Williams.
Councilwoman Patsy Cudaback offered an opposing view.
Cudaback discussed the fire department’s side-by-side demonstrations with staged house fires, where one house has a sprinkler system and the other does not.
“Sprinklers work so quickly to suppress a fire, and when you compare that to what can happen to a home that does not have sprinklers, it’s amazing,” said Cudaback.
While she acknowledged the additional cost to new construction, she asked for council to consider looking at the bigger picture.
“This, to me, rises to a higher level because it’s the safety of our community,” said Cudaback.
“I’d be more apt to add this in and approve it. I’m hoping that council will think about it over the next week,” she continued.
Cudaback discussed the details provided in Fitzgerald’s letter and addressed the cost issues stating that, while there would be an initial cost increase, perhaps part of the increase could be offset by savings in insurance premiums.
“It is possible that adopting Appendix S and installing residential fire sprinklers will save a homeowner 30 percent or more in insurance premiums,” wrote Fitzgerald.
First reading of the building code revisions, which, per staff recommendation, will not include Appendix S, will be June 11.
The code, however, does require fire sprinkler systems in homes where fire department access could be obstructed by restrictive roadways.