Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Our Fire Marshal And Community Involvement

Barry Nuss, Fire Marshal on double duty performing Fire Investigation and Public Information duties.

Fire Investigations

The Fire Marshal is responsible for the District’s Fire Investigation program and is frequently called to the scene of fires for the purpose of investigation. He is certified by the State of Missouri as a Fire Investigator and continues his education in the field on a regular basis.

The Fire Marshal conducts fire investigations at the scene of a fire to determine the origin and cause. Investigations consist of examination of the surroundings, structure, contents, fire and smoke patterns, electrical wiring, witness interviews, photographs, scene sketches, documentation and sometimes working with assisting agencies such as law enforcement.

Most fires must be investigated while firefighters are still on the scene and must be a continuation of the initial emergency response by firefighters. The scene can only be held for investigation for a reasonable time frame. An urgent fire investigation also helps in identifying fleeting witnesses as well as accurate information gathering while all fire personnel are still on the scene.

The United States Supreme Court (Michigan v. Clifford) has ruled that fire investigations must be conducted under exigent (immediate) circumstances, otherwise either consent or a warrant is required. In cases of Arson, consent is unlikely and a warrant without probable cause is certainly a violation of an individual’s 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Many fire investigations require additional research and work beyond the fire scene. The Fire Marshal is responsible for follow up as well.

Fire Safety Education

The Fire Marshal is responsible for coordinating the District’s fire safety education program.

A well-rounded community fire safety education program begins with fire/arson investigations as mentioned above. Before fire safety programs can be effectively developed, the origin and cause of fires in the local area must be investigated, researched and determined. Appropriate fire safety education programs can then be developed based on local fire causes.

The Fire Marshal has researched and investigated local fire causes within our District for 10 years. He has developed a professional Home Fire Safety Checklist based on these fire causes which he distributes and discusses at many area events.

Each year, the Fire Marshal, Firefighters and District Chiefs educate more than 4,000 children in fire safety. Stop, Drop and Roll, Get Out and Stay Out, Get Low and Go, fire drills in the home and home fire escape planning are all part of our curriculum. Our Fire Safety Trailer helps kids safely learn, understand and practice how to get out a home fire alive.

Fire safety educational materials for each child, such as coloring books, pencils, water bottles, stickers, etc. are purchased by funds generated by our building permit program as well as by the generous support of our local businesses through our FirePup program.

In addition to area schools, the Fire Marshal attends events for area seniors, employee safety fairs, career fairs and more for the opportunity to discuss fire safety and District happenings with attendees.

We appreciate our schools and businesses who care about fire safety education and continue to invite us back each and every year.

Fire Codes & Ordinances

The Fire Marshal is responsible for ensuring compliance with Ordinances adopted by the District’s Board of Directors. He is certified by the State of Missouri as a Fire Inspector as well as by the International Code Council.

Fire District Ordinance establishes minimum fire and life safety standards for occupants and visitors of commercial buildings as well as protections for Firefighters who may have to enter those buildings under less than ideal conditions. These minimum safeguards are outlined in the International Fire and Building Codes, published by the International Code Council. Rarely has the District made any requirement more restrictive than international standard.

The Fire Marshal consults with building owners and contractors, reviews building plans, performs multiple on-site inspections during construction and documents the process. While the Ordinance is complex and detailed, examples of just a few things the Fire Marshal looks for during an inspection are:

  • Fire blocking in walls to slow fire spread
  • Lighted exit signs
  • Illuminated exits and passageways
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Exit layouts, door style and hardware
  • Occupancy type and business operations
  • Electrical hazards
  • Occupancy load (number of persons)
  • Fire alarms and sprinklers (if necessary)
  • Fire walls and barriers (if necessary)
  • Fire hydrants, drive widths, turnarounds
  • Hazards to Firefighters
  • And many other fire and life safety items

In 2010, the Fire Marshal ended all residential inspections of single-family homes. Although, some builders and homeowners continue to request and receive voluntary inspections for compliance with specific private mortgage loan requirements or simply because they want a qualified person to review fire and life safety features for their family.

In 2017, the Fire Marshal established the District’s new Codes & Ordinances Committee. This diverse committee is an advisory board, designed and built to be a strong voice for the community. Many members are not related to the trades or construction industry. The Committee also listens to community member’s project specific concerns and provide their opinions and community feedback to the Fire Marshal as well as the District’s Board of Directors.

Barry Nuss, Fire Marshal speaking in favor of Hwy 61 safety improvements after a tragic accident.

Public Information

The Fire Marshal is responsible for the District’s public information program and is designated as the District’s Public Information Officer.

The Fire Marshal developed the District’s website and continues to maintain it with articles and features useful to the community and the District’s services. He also maintains the District’s Facebook Page and other social media accounts.  He is also responsible for the District’s GIS mapping program for fire hydrants, response zones, public protection class rating maps, etc. as well as making those maps readily available to the public. An example of those maps can be viewed online here.

The Fire Marshal is responsible for assuming the Public Information Officer role during larger scale incidents.  He has done so in the past for missing persons and major weather and flooding events.  The Fire Marshal is also the primary Public Information Officer for incidents involving Lincoln County Emergency Management Agency and where Lincoln County’s Emergency Operations Center is activated.

Further, he responds to significant incidents that may require immediate public notification.  A few examples include school bus incidents, hazardous material releases, major thoroughfare accidents and other major or significant incidents.

He is responsible for maintaining relationships with St. Louis and local media outlets, conducting interviews with media members as well as developing and distributing press releases.

Other Responsibilities

While the Fire Marshals primary roles are listed above, he also has responsibilities related to the following:

  • Coordinate the District’s complimentary smoke alarm program
  • Maintain and improve ISO ratings, related to Fire Prevention and Investigations
  • Respond to citizen concerns
  • Coordinate the District’s business lock box program
  • Report at the District’s Board of Directors meetings.
  • Investigate open burning complaints
  • Maintain working relationships with multiple agencies and businesses
  • Instruct certain courses in the District’s fire academy.
  • Maintain certifications and seek out additional training opportunities
  • Attend District Officer meetings

Other Achievements

The Fire Marshal has led fundraising efforts for the Lincoln County Firefighter’s Foundation, including the District’s popular Rock The Cause event.  His unique ideas and efforts, with the help of others and generous support of the community, have raised over $75,000 for local children in need, families and fire victims.

In January of 2016, the Fire Marshal started the Hwy 61 Safety Campaign and locally viral video, “Barrier 61, Get It Done” (video below) after multiple fatal crossover accidents between Moscow Mills and Wentzville.  Combined with the active involvement of many agency and municipal leaders, they got it done.  The Missouri Department of Transportation soon announced a safety barrier would be installed in the median from Moscow Mills to the I-70 interchange.  The installation begins this year (2018).

Certifications & Education

The Fire Marshal began his career with our Fire District in 2004 when he signed on as a Volunteer Firefighter. In 2006, he was hired as a full-time Fire Inspector and in 2007, promoted to Fire Marshal.

The Fire Marshal maintains the following State of Missouri certifications:

  • Firefighter I & II
  • Hazardous Materials Operations
  • Fire Service Instructor I
  • Fire Officer I & II
  • Fire Investigator
  • Fire Inspector

In addition, he further maintains certifications in the National Incident Management System and successfully completed the Fire Service Leadership Enhancement Program and holds a Fire Officer Certificate from the University of Missouri’s Fire & Rescue Training Institute.

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to us.

Lincoln County Fire Protection District #1
700 E. Cherry St.
Troy, MO 63379
Phone:  636-528-8567

Mike Cherry,
Fire Chief