PRISM may get new manager

Posted: Wednesday, March 05, 2008

With the approval of the Kenai City Council, the city's fire training facility stands to get a new manager, again.

After only one year, the state fire marshal notified the city in January that it no longer planned to manage the training center.

The Alaska Division of Fire Prevention contracted with the city of Kenai in February 2007, to manage the Pacific Rim Institute of Safety Management (PRISM) training facility, but because "the financial performance hasn't been what they expected," in the words of City Manager Rick Koch, the fire marshal gave notice of its intent to leave.

The state fire marshal took over management of the PRISM center from AAI Services Inc., which had operated the fire training center for eight years.

City administration is seeking council approval to award the management contract to Beacon Occupational Health and Safety Services Inc.

Operated by Holly and Mark Highland, Beacon has partnered with AAI in the past to train clients at PRISM, and has leased the facility from the fire marshal to conduct training.

Firefighters are trained in aircraft and structural firefighting at the center, which also offers training to oil platform workers, airline employees and emergency medical responders.

In a letter to the council, Koch said the contract with Beacon would be for five years.

The council also is slated to revisit proposed municipal code changes establishing a licensing procedure for pawnbrokers and regulating how they conduct business in Kenai.

Introduced in November, the pawnbroker ordinance was sent back to administration for fine tuning after Soldotna pawnbroker Norm Blakeley testified that the proposed rules were too restrictive on one specific type of business.

If adopted tonight, the code changes would take effect April 5. Currently Kenai has no pawn shops.

An ordinance will be introduced for first and second readings and be considered for adoption tonight appropriating $15,000 for architectural services to assist the city manager complete a grant application for the library expansion.

Koch said, in order to meet a tight Rasmuson Foundation deadline, the measure must be expedited through the council process. For approval of the expedited measure, a unanimous vote of the council is required.

On Monday, Koch said he would hire the Klauder and Company architectural firm to assist with the grant application, if the funding is approved.

Also on the council agenda is consideration of a proposed ordinance regulating the use of Conex-type structures in the central commercial and residential zones of the city. The ordinance also adds a building permit requirement for accessory structures larger than 120 square feet.

The council is scheduled to discuss a proposal submitted to the Friends of the Library for two Haines consultants to be retained to help with securing funding for the Kenai Community Library expansion. The city would be asked to pay one-half, or approximately $5,000, of the consulting fee.

The council meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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