Beaumont tragedy prompts fire safety inspection of Montgomery County Animal Shelter
CONROE, Texas — County officials are working together to ensure the safety of the nearly 500 cats and dogs housed daily at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter.
After learning of a tragic fire that left 67 dogs dead and disrupted operations at the Humane Society of Southeast Texas in Beaumont March 15, Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark requested a re-inspection of the Montgomery County facility to make sure the building was safe for both animals and staff. Clark assumed oversight responsibility for MCAS in 2015 when the county took control of the facility that was privately operated previously.
"Our goal is to be proactive about fire safety," said Clark. "We want to learn from the tragedy in Beaumont."
A faulty drier in the main building is the suspected cause of the Humane Society fire, according to Montgomery County Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams. Most of the animals killed in the fire died from smoke conditions near the location the fire is believed to have started. National fire safety standards to not require alarm or sprinkler systems in buildings like the Montgomery County Animal Shelter.
"Even though it is not required, the county shelter does have an alarm system," said Williams. "Without an alarm system, a slow fire can generate a lot of smoke and damage before it's noticed and the fire department notified."
Williams also noted that there are three fire stations located in close proximity to MCAS. The shelter's location, combined with its fire alarm system, make it unlikely such a tragedy would occur here, he said.
Commissioner Clark joined Dr. Todd Hayden, newly appointed shelter director, and Montgomery County Deputy Fire Marshal Gary Bennett for a tour of the shelter.
"Even though the shelter passed a recent inspection, we wanted to double check everything, especially the areas most prone to potential fire risk," said Bennet. "The dryers for the Montgomery County facility are housed in a structure separate from the main building where animals are kept. That's a good thing."
Clark and Williams said the inspection was also an opportunity to educate the MCAS staff and volunteers about fire safety issues.
"There a lot of people in Montgomery County who care deeply about animals," said Clark. "It's our responsibility to do all we can to protect them and the people who care for them."
MCAS is located at 8535 SH 242 in Conroe. For information on MCAS, visit www.mcaspets.org or call 936-442-7738.