Some Missouri lake docks not meeting electrical codes

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ROCKY MOUNT - Missouri lawmakers are calling some lake docks in Missouri "dangerous", since not all of them are meeting today's electrical codes

A new Senate bill is pushing for stricter dock inspections for lake docks.

Rocky Mount Fire Chief Kevin Hurtubise said he thinks more than half of his city's docks don't meet the requirements. 

"In Rocky Mount, we have 1,900 docks and I am going to assume that over 50 to 60 percent of them do not meet the standard code," Hurtubise said. 

The Rocky Mount Fire District looks for proper wiring when they inspect a dock.

"When we do a dock inspection, the first thing that we would inspect is where the power would be coming from," Hurtubise said. "Once we get down to the dock itself, within six feet of the ramp we're looking for a ground fault interrupter connector or a GFCI."

The department also makes sure a ground rod is installed near the dock. The rod and the GFCI help contain electricity so it can't shock people in the water.

"It keeps that voltage from harming the person that's in contact with it," Hurtubise said.

Weather protectors should be on outlets that are within eight feet of water to prevent electrocution, he said.

Hurtubise said Senate Bill 297 will help the fire district with these inspections. 

"Without the new Senate bill passing, we do not have the authority to regulate that the GFCIs are put on the docks," he said.

Sen. Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis County, the bill's sponsor, said it was created to help ensure public safety.

"I'm concerned about my own kids swimming in the lake," he said. "Ameren doesn't seem to be interested in fixing this. They are allowing docks to be permanent without inspection."

Hurtubise recommends dock owners get their dock inspected at least once a year.

"Any inspection is the dock owner's responsibility to contact us or a reputable electrician to have their dock inspected," he said. "A dock owner needs to be prudent on the fact that water and electric truly doesn't mix. And death is the worst thing that can come from it."