Appleton mulls path to fireproof document storage – Knox County VillageSoup

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APPLETON — State law requires every city to have a fireproof location to keep its most important records. Appleton does not know if he is breaking this law or not.

The issue was raised at the Sept. 20 meeting of the select committee, but prompted little discussion except from chair Lorie Costigan.

She provided each member with a copy of the relevant portion of the state statute governing administrative procedures and services, along with undated written comments listed under a heading titled: “Secretary of State.”

The four pages seem to clearly state what is required. Among the comments of the Secretary of State, there is the why of all this.

“Recent fires in several cities remind us of the dangers of not protecting critical documents.”

The Secretary of State goes on to cite applicable law.

But as Costigan pointed out, there’s a flaw in Appleton’s fireproof storage system that raises a question.

After distributing the documents, she told her colleagues Marci Moody Blakely, Charles Garrigan, Scott Esancy and Vice President Peter Beckett: “You have the bylaws for keeping municipal records. At the moment we have a semi-fireproof safe in the basement of the fire department.

She continued that “at some point” in the past, a plexiglass window was installed in the safe door that “hinders the effectiveness of the door.”

It seems the city isn’t sure if adding plexiglass made the safe non-compliant with state statutes – in other words, an illegal safe that isn’t fireproof but houses the the most important documents of the city.

Costigan asked rhetorically if the safe was “grandpa?” »

It is a legal concept that refers to cases where something already in place is exempted from a new law.

“That’s a question that needs to be answered,” she told her colleagues. There was no response and that was the end of the discussion.

A city committee recently recommended that a portion of Appleton’s share of federal Covid-related American Rescue Plan Act funding be used to build a fireproof zone in the city office.

This recommendation has not been followed up. Costigan and Esancy were the Select Board representatives on the committee, which has since disbanded.

Unsaid and unanswered at the September 20 meeting was, if the city safe does not meet required standards, is Appleton violating state law? And if so, how long did it last, and who is responsible?

“Anyone who violates any provision of these rules shall be guilty of a Class E felony,” according to the written documents Costigan gave to the Secretary of State under the heading “Local Government Records Disposition Rules.”

In Maine, a Class E felony is “punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine,” according to the state’s website, Maine.gov.

Costigan responded to a request for comment saying, “A copy of the relevant law has been provided for an educational opportunity only. The vault of the city is in the fire station; the city has existing safes and fire cabinets. More will be needed, and understanding the relevant law helps the board’s decision-making process as it considers potential expenses.

The relevant law on keeping fireproof records is contained in Title 5, Chapter 6 of the state code.

Paragraph 95-B, Section 2, reads: “Each local government shall provide a fireproof safe or vault for the safekeeping of all records which are required to be permanently retained but are not required for any purpose. commercial. The official responsible for these registers deposits them in the safe where these registers must be kept, except when they are necessary for their use. »

The statutes go on to say that the safe or vault “should be planned and its construction supervised by a licensed engineer or architect”.

And they detail how it should be built as follows: “Its walls may only be pierced for necessary services, and should not be opened to any type of well. The floor and the roof must not be drilled. All walls, floor and door must meet a minimum of four hour fire resistance standards according to a nationally recognized standards body. The safe door may not be a standard “fire door” or other design not specifically intended for use in the safe…no combustible materials may be used in the construction of the safe.

Is plexiglass fireproof or is it combustible? Here’s what fireproofdepot.com has to say:

“Plexiglass is a solid plastic sheet (that is to say) not at all fireproof. They are not heat resistant and therefore cannot be used as heat precautionary substances.

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