New dock inspection regulations passed

Lake fire district says changes were in the works but were hastened in response to electrocutions

The electrical wiring on this Osage Beach dock was properly installed and approved by the Osage Beach Fire Protection District inspector before Ameren Missouri issued a dock permit in the owner’s name.

The electrical wiring on this Osage Beach dock was properly installed and approved by the Osage Beach Fire Protection District inspector before Ameren Missouri issued a dock permit in the owner’s name.

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. — Last week, the Osage Beach Fire Protection District board voted unanimously to modify its dock inspection ordinance to include all newly constructed, recently sold and/or remodeled docks connected to single-family dwellings within its boundaries.

Under the new provisions, owners of residential property who build a dock, purchase an already installed dock or remodel an old dock must have the electrical wiring on the structure inspected before they will be eligible to obtain a dock permit from Ameren UE.

At this time, Osage Beach Fire District Chief Jeff Dorhauer said, the changes in the ordinance only apply to privately owned residential docks and do not include commercial docks or those owned by homeowner’s associations of multiunit housing complexes, such as condos or apartment buildings.

Despite “a lot of talk to the contrary,” the changes in the fire district’s dock inspection ordinance were “only partially” prompted by three in-water electrocutions that occurred last summer, Dorhauer said.

“Everybody seems to think we only decided to tighten up our ordinance after the electrocutions, but that is only partially true,” he said. “We have had a dock inspection ordinance in place since 2006 and have been working toward tightening up the regulations for several years, but I will admit last year’s accidents prompted us to speed up the process.”

In July 2012, a woman and two children were killed in two separate incidents while swimming near privately owned docks in remote regions of the north shore of Lake of the Ozarks. In both instances, authorities ruled the accidental deaths were the result of faulty wiring systems on nearby docks.

The accidents prompted fire districts around the lake to work with Ameren Missouri in finding ways to tighten regulations governing the inspection of electrical wiring used on docks. Of the seven or eight fire protection districts in Miller, Morgan and Camden counties that have lakeshore property within their boundaries, only Lake Ozark, Osage Beach, Mid County and Sunrise Beach fire districts have the capability of handling electrical inspections. All four of those fire districts have an agreement with Ameren Missouri to handle electrical inspections as part of its dock permitting process.

Under the terms of the Osage Beach ordinance, when a homeowner purchases a property that already has a dock, has either a new or used dock installed, or remodels a dock, he or she must call the fire department to have the electrical wiring inspected. Once the inspection is done, the homeowner must bring the electrical wiring up to code before Ameren Missouri will issue a dock owner’s permit in the person’s name.

By the same token, if a property seller has an inspection done prior to listing the property for sale, the inspection certificate is only good for one year from the date of issuance. If the property is not sold within that year, another inspection will be required before a dock permit will be issued in the new owner’s name.

When an inspector comes to the home, he or she will check all parts of the electrical system from the house to the walkway and throughout the dock structure, including wiring, connectors, junctions, boxes, outlets and lights. The minimum inspection fee is $50 for a dock with up to four wells. Docks with more than four wells will be charged on a graduating scale.

If the inspector finds a problem, the original $50 fee will cover one re-inspection. If the problem has not been satisfactorily corrected, there will be an additional $25 fee for each inspection above the first two that may be required. The fee covers only one dock; if a property owner has two or more docks, he or she must pay a separate fee for each one.

The fire district inspections cover the electrical system only and do not include building or engineering code requirements.

For more information about the dock inspection ordinance, call the Osage Beach Fire Protection District at its central number 573-348-1221 or log onto its website at obfire.com/dock-information/.

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