Thursday, November 20, 2014

Meet our new Safety Specialists!

The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust recently welcomed two new members to the Loss Control team.  Both bring several years of experience in their respective specialties; Troy Walsh from Public Works and the Fire Service, and Tracy Stille from Law Enforcement.
Troy Walsh

For the past 14 years Troy worked in the Public Works Department in Victoria, Minnesota.  He most recently oversaw the Streets and Storm Water Divisions.  He was a member of the city safety committee and oversaw the safety training and safety policies for the City of Victoria.  He holds a Class-D Water License from Minnesota Department of Health and a Class-SC Wastewater License from Minnesota Pollution Control.  He will receive his Road Scholar Certification from Minnesota Local Technical Assistance Program or MnLTAP in May of 2015. 

Troy is a state certified Firefighter 1 & 2 with sixteen years of service in the City of Victoria Fire Department and is the current Assistant Fire Chief and Fire Marshall.  He is also state certified as a Fire Instructor, Fire Officer, and a Public Fire Educator.  He is a past member of the Minnesota Board of Fire Training and Education 2010-2012.  Troy holds an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science Technology from Hennepin Technical College.  He is also a Hazardous Materials Technician and a member of the Carver County Hazardous Materials Group.  Troy is a National Registry Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). 

Troy was born, raised and still resides in the southwest metro community of Victoria. He has a long history with the community and its city departments.  In high school Troy worked as a part time seasonal employee for the public works department.

Troy started with the League of Minnesota Cities on November 17th and will be working as a Loss Control Consultant covering the Southwest Region of Minnesota.


Tracy Stille
Tracy recently retired from the Maple Grove Police Department where he served in a variety of positions that included patrol officer, drug education officer, investigator, field training officer, patrol sergeant, emergency response unit team leader, sergeant of investigations, services captain and patrol captain.  Previously he served with several rural police departments in McLeod and Sibley Counties and was employed as a special deputy with the Sibley County Sheriff’s Office.  

Tracy also has experience working in the fields of public works for the City of Brownton and vehicle fleet management for the City of Maple Grove. 

Tracy’s education includes a Master of Science degree in criminal justice from St. Cloud State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in law enforcement from Mankato State University.  His training also includes several executive level management and leadership development courses that include the FBI’s Law Enforcement and Executive Development Seminar #14, the MN Chiefs of Police CLEO and Command Academy, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Police Management and Supervision certification program, and the School of Police Staff and Command #212 thru Northwestern University.  He is also a certified emergency manager thru the MN Department of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. 

Tracy Stille grew up on a rural farm in McLeod County, MN.  He attended Hibbing Community College and became licensed as a peace officer in 1983 after being hired by the Brownton Police Department. 

Tracy started with the League of Minnesota Cities on November 17th and will be working as a Loss Control Consultant covering the Northeast Region of Minnesota.

By Cheryl Brennan

Monday, November 17, 2014

Link on Frozen Water Lines - Minnesota Rural Water

Two heads are better than one!  Minnesota Rural Water shared some materials on their website including a sample notification to the public and a sample media kit for utilities.  Minnesota Rural Website  Thanks! 

by LMC Loss Control

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Frozen Water Lines - Educate the Public

As a Public Works employee you know the value of preplanning for any job you do in the city.  One of the most important things you can do is educate your city residents before the cold weather hits.  Get something posted on your web site and/or printed for your utility bills to help people prepare.

In the midst of the 2014 cold wave I woke up to a frozen water pipe in my own downstairs bathroom.  For weeks I’d been blogging about, and keeping my eyes open, for news about frozen water lines.  On the day of our freeze up I just happened across a list of some very good tips. 

Of course the below grade bathroom had a vanity but if you recall the frost was 7-8 feet down in some parts of the state.  And the closed doors of the vanity, along with the contents of the vanity, kept the water pipe insulated from the warm air in the lower level.  Taking the contents out of the vanity, leaving the vanity doors open, using a space heater and applying heat tape slowly thawed the line. 

I've listed some tips that you may want to post on your city website.  If you include the space heater or heat tape options in your list of things residents can do to thaw their lines, I recommend running a link to precautions from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Underwriters Laboratory – see below.  If the city suggests residents run a pencil-thin trickle of water make sure your city has discussed and determined what, if anything, will be done to adjust water bills or sanitary sewer flow – see previous blogs. 

By Cheryl Brennan

Your water lines may be at risk of freezing during prolonged periods of bitter cold if you had issues with frozen water lines last winter.  Here’s what you can do to prepare:
  • Monitor the weather reports for extended periods of severe cold; then take action.
  • Allow warm air to circulate in the area where the water comes in to the house.
  • Leave utility room doors open and clear space around the waterline.
  • Remove contents of vanity cupboards and leave the doors open.
  • If possible/practical leave snow cover over the area where your lateral water line runs from the curb stop to the house.
  • Put a fresh battery in the thermostat if the thermostat is not hard wired in to the home.
  • Run your cold water closest to the water line entry point for a couple minutes and then take the temperature of the water. 
    • If it is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit it is recommended that you let your cold water run from this faucet at a pencil thickness. 
    • You should run it non-stop when there is no one home, overnight when temperatures typically dip lower, or no water is being used for a period of time.
    • Notify the city/utility if this method is chosen.

If your water line freezes:
  • Use heat tape, a space heater (don’t leave it unattended) or a warm hair dryer on the pipe.  Follow all safety precautions recommended by Consumer Product Safety Commission   and  Underwriters Laboratory .
  • Watch for unintended consequences of sewer or septic backups if running water continuously.
  • If a contractor is needed to thaw the line be aware of unintended consequences of contractors thawing water lines, particularly if using an electrical welder. 
    • Namely fire, explosion, damage to appliances and electronics, and the possibility of damage to other property owners in the case of stray electrical current. 
    • Determine if the contractor is using a commercial device manufactured specifically to thaw frozen water lines.  
    • Determine if the contractor is insured. 

Sanitary sewer freeze up considerations:

Make sure the roof vent is not covered with snow or is otherwise blocked.  Snow build up over the vent will cause the sewer drain to slow down.  This prevents the warmer air in the sewer system from venting up the house line and keeping the line above freezing.