Waterloo warming shelter violates fire codes, must close

January 17, 2020 GMT

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Organizers of an emergency warming shelter in Waterloo said Friday they will have to close because the space doesn’t meet fire code regulations.

The Waterloo Warming Center opened Jan. 6 at Jubilee United Methodist Church’s Freedom resource center. But after an inspection, officials noted the space didn’t have a sprinkler system and ordered that the center close by Tuesday.

Organizers began searching for a new location and implored city officials not to force them out of the current site until a replacement can be found. Temperatures are supposed to remain below freezing until next week.

“We understand and appreciate the need for fire safety regulations, but we cannot close this location down until a new appropriate location has been secured,” Black Hawk County Supervisor Chris Schwartz told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. “The alternative is leaving folks out to freeze to death on our streets.”

Schwartz said the center has been staffed with volunteers and has been open from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily. From two to nine people have stayed each night.