JFD talks fire codes and foster homes

Jason Wills (Source: KAIT)
Jason Wills (Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A local fire department's standard approval rates could spike as the need for foster families continues to grow.

The Jonesboro Fire Department discussed fire codes and the Arkansas Department of Human Services' foster and adoption standard of approval codes on Monday.

Christians 4 Kids works closely with DHS and helps people become foster families in Northeast Arkansas.

Nicole Potts said some standards have gotten in the way of families becoming foster parents.

That standard mostly affects families living in apartments with one exit door.

For foster and adoption parents, their homes must have two exterior doors to provide a safe exit, or the local fire department must approve an alternative escape route.

Potts said in the past, families in Jonesboro have been denied fostering because they did not meet the standard.

She said the Jonesboro Fire Department did not approve a bedroom window as a safe escape route.

Now, Jonesboro Fire Marshal Jason Willis is digging deeper into the matter.

"Any bedroom where people can sleep has to have an operable window," Wills said. "The code establishes the size of the window and how that window operates. So, that's all prescribed by code and that would be something we would be willing to come out and take a look at and see if it does meet code."

Wills also mentioned apartment living has recently become much safer and that could be another factor in approving windows as an escape route.

"Now, all of those apartments are required to be sprinkled by the fire state prevention code," he said. "So, obviously a sprinkled building is far safer than a non-sprinkled building. There are sometimes concessions there that we could look at and see if there are allowances giving the fact that the building has a sprinkler system."

He said if a single-exit home and its bedroom window meet fire code, he would deem that as a safe alternative escape route.

"If somebody wants us to come out and look at an apartment or a place where they are needing or wanting to foster children, then, by all means, please contact our office," he said.

Jonesboro Fire Department's office number is 870-932-2428.

Potts said she is hopeful that something good will come from a change and that it will open up more doors for children needing foster families.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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