Officials Urge Yearly Dock Inspections

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LAKE OF THE OZARKS - Following three fatal electrocutions around docks at the Lake of the Ozarks earlier this month, officials are urging dock owners to get their docks inspected--even if they think they are safe. Dock owners can call one of the seven fire districts at the lake or a certified electrician to do the inspection, but it will usually cost dock owners at least $50. That's why Dan Strickland decided to renew his campaign of offering free dock inspections.

"We have offered free dock inspections for a while now, but we would only do a few a year," said Strickland, an electrician with more than 30 years experience. "After the tragedies this year, I called the radio station and said I only want to run our ads that feature free dock inspections."

Strickland said his company doesn't perform dock inspections regularly, but now he's done more than 100. Strickland added the main reason he offers free dock inspections is because he doesn't want to see another preventable tragedy at the lake.

"I don't care if you have us do your work to make your dock safe or you have someone else do it, I just want to make sure something like this doesn't happen again," said Strickland. "It broke my heart when I heard about those two kids. Things like that shouldn't happen."

Strickland added that he would like to see more regulations at the lake to make sure docks are safe. But officials said that probably won't happen anytime soon.

"We are standing behind the current regulations in place," said Ameren shoreline manager Jeff Green. "There's really good standards out there right now. I think what we are dealing with in many instances is a dock that predates the new standard might need to be brought up to standard."

Ameren Missouri owns the lake and Green said that it's the owners' responsibility to make sure their docks are safe. He also adds that docks should be inspected for more than electrical problems.

"It's very important to inspect your dock on an annual basis." said Green. "The lake level fluctuations, the heavy wave action, and it's not uncommon in heavy winds that a dock might break a cable and come off it's anchoring point."

There are more than 25,000 docks at the Lake of the Ozarks. Most of those were built before 2006 -- when inspections weren't required. Currently, docks are required to get inspected when they are first put in, but not required to have any other inspects except for after major overhauls. That's why Strickland said there should be more regulations.

While Strickland and Green might not agree on what should be regulated at the lake, they both agree on one thing: every dock should have a GFI (ground fault interrupter).  The GFI will prevent power from going into the water if something goes wrong with the wiring on the dock.

Dock owners can call one of the seven fire protection districts at the lake for an inspection: Rocky Mount Fire District, Lake Ozark Fire District, Sunrise Beach Fire District, Osage Beach Fire District, Mid-County Fire District, Camden Fire District, Northwest Fire District, or any certified electrician.

For more information on dock wiring, click on the documents below (courtesy Ameren Missouri):

Dock Wiring Diagram.pdf

Dock Electrical Requirements.pdf

Dock Wiring Checklist.pdf