Gated driveways creating fire risk for Schroeder property owners

People with gates at the end of their driveways or private roads are not accessible to the local fire department if their houses catch on fire.  This was a concern raised by Fire Chief Phil Bonin at the Schroeder Township Board meeting September 10, 2013.  Bonin said he would not use a department truck to break a steel gate.
Numerous Schroeder properties are known to be blocked off by gates.  Bonin said he gets requests from insurance companies regarding things such as how far a property is from the nearest fire hall and response time in case of fire.
Board Treasurer Alicia Kangas wondered if a property owner who had installed a gate at the end of a private road could be held liable for damage to other properties that are accessed from that road through an easement.
The board decided to try to send letters out to all property owners known to have gates on their properties, telling them that they are not protected by the fire department because their properties are inaccessible.  One issue was that they were not sure how to contact some owners, particularly those who live outside the county most of the time.
Another danger the fire chief mentioned was water.  Bonin said the department had conducted several water rescues lately.  People continue to get into trouble in the Temperance River.  “I now keep a water kit in the truck,” he said.  It consists of a throw rope and a life preserver.
Fire Chief Bonin reported that the fire department’s pancake breakfast fundraiser on Father Baraga Day brought in 80 people.