A report from the Hanceville Fire Department Thursday raises concern about the lack of codes for certain dwellings in unincorporated areas.
Hanceville Assistant Fire Chief Bart Absher was providing the mayor and city council a report on how emergency calls for the department are on the rise. But his report was particularly worrisome based on information he gathered from the Alabama Fire Marshall’s Office.
Alabama has documented 47 fatalities related to fires, with Cullman and Blount counties among the top 10 in the state. Absher said a growing problem is the number residents living in structures that are not properly wired.
For example, some residents are living in small campers, outdated mobile homes and other makeshift dwellings. Factor in the financial conditions, many of the residents do not have smoke detectors or fire extinguishers, and the electrical work may be improper.
Absher said many of the fire department’s responses have been to rural dwellings that wouldn’t meet with approval under most cities’ zoning departments.
The situation presents a complexity that needs to be solved at the local level.
Income issues are responsible for many of the structures being inhabited, and understandably people who are desperate for a place to live resort to using the only affordable way to have shelter.
Nonetheless, the Cullman County Commission should look into this matter and determine reasonable means to ensure the residents are not living in unsafe structures, and work with other agencies to provide assistance for those unable to live safely.