“We do not take actions like this lightly,” said Vandalia Fire Marshal Jason Eckert. “We have worked with the hotel management for years, and these issues have not been addressed.”
In September of 2021, the city passed an ordinance requiring all hotels and motels in Vandalia to apply for an operational permit. Operators of a hotel or motel must adhere to specific requirements in order to obtain and keep an operational permit.
Eckert said the motel’s fire suppression system lacks adequate water pressure and is not operational. The owners were required to install smoke detectors connected to a central line in each room. When a detector on a central line is activated, the front desk is alerted and the building can be quickly evacuated.
Inspectors found multiple rooms with no working smoke detectors, and other rooms with smoke detectors not linked to a central line, according to the city.
“The bottom line is that this structure is not safe,” Eckert said. “Our action today is necessary to protect the health, safety and well being of the people of Vandalia.”
The City of Vandalia Fire has been working with Super 8 Motel guests to make them aware of the situation and help them find living arrangements through a list of organizations and emergency shelters to find permanent housing, according to a press release from Vandalia.
“We know some of the guests are long-term residents who have been there for many months, and even years,” Eckert said. “Those staying longer periods typically use electrical devices such as hot plates and other cookware, and multiple extension cords to keep everything plugged in. In our inspections we have seen multiple rooms with cooking appliances and extension cords.”
The rooms are not equipped to handle the additional electric demands, and extension cords can be serious fire hazards, Eckert said. He added that these situations are exacerbated with a non-functioning fire protection system, according to the release.
The notice of permit revocation listed nine specific fire code violations and an order to evacuate the premises listed 12 specific open violations that have to be addressed, the release said.
Vandalia Mayor Richard Herbst, in a statement posted to Facebook, said the three-story motel has a total of 94 rooms with the capacity to provide lodging for more than 180 people. He said it’s imperative for the facility to have safeguards in place in the event of a fire.
“An unchecked fire could very quickly have deadly results,” the statement reads. “... This was a situation we simply could not allow to continue.”
Vandalia City Manager Dan Wendt said the business owners have been cited multiple times for these violations.
“The Super 8 Motel has repeatedly refused to comply with basic safety measures to protect their guests,” Wendt said. “The conditions are unacceptable, and the city is revoking the Super 8′s permit and working to shut down the establishment until it can stop habitually breaking laws in our town.”