It looks like South King Fire & Rescue is forcing the closure of a local business for obscure and NEVER NATIONALLY enforced technicality!!!

How many businesses in Federal Way has the city chased out of town? How many jobs have they eliminated?

Whatever has happened up to now is not enough, apparently.


The Target (this time)

Now the fire department, with the help of the city, has decided to run Branches Garden Center out of town.

And when would be a good time to proceed with this over zealous negative action? Well, how about in the spring, when the garden center is expected to be at it busiest and most productive.


Order to Cease Activity (Shut the doors or else!)

Already subject to an Order to Cease Activity, the center was closed Monday awaiting the results of an appeal. Finally granted an extension until April 18, (City Council Chambers at 2:00) the fire department is using the muscle and authority of the City of Federal Way Hearing Examiner to shut down Branches Garden Center for a supposed roof material violation.


The Alleged Violation

The business has had the same roof material covering their entire greenhouse, nursery and retail area for years. It is a sturdy material and is designed specifically for outdoor plants by allowing ample natural light in while providing a delightful covered area for customers to browse the wonderful array of trees, shrubs, flowers and garden decorations. It is also durable enough to provide years of functional and safe use.

This reinforced material is used by hundreds of garden centers and nurseries around the country, without complaint or problems.

But for the past two years Fire Marshal Gordon Olson has been imposing a variety of presumed ‘infractions’ finally trying to enforce an obscure material requirement requiring a limited production special order product be used for the roofing.


The Options

In addition to costing an exorbitant amount of money, the minimum production run is five times greater than Branches can use, the supposed ‘fire rating’ expires in only 12 months requiring a new and expensive installation every year. The real kicker is that not one other nursery in the entire United States is required to use it.

One of the reasons that none of the hundreds of similarly constructed garden centers around the country use this is that the color and density of this ‘special’ material will pretty much make the entire area a dark cave which inhibits plant growth.


The Muscle

So why is South King Fire & Rescue, using their strong-arm companion the City of Federal Way, enforcing this obscure requirement? A presumed minor benefit in flammability.

The material presently used is of a fire retardant nature, meaning that it will not support flame once an ignition source is removed. So it will not burn and spread a fire, just melt away.

The ‘required’ material is said to have a slightly better rating and therefore the Fire Marshal has decided to force the owners of Branches to spend thousands of needless dollars installing a green garden cover or shut their doors.


Location, Location, Location

By the way, for those not clear about where the garden center is, just go a mere 300 feet east of SKF&R Station 64 on 320th near Military Road. (I am sure response time was not factored into their decision to slap unwarranted restrictions on an existing business.)


Where do the commissioners stand?

Who knows? When you need them, their contact information is not listed on the SKF&R website, they hide behind the catchall email, hoping you won’t bother them with trivia like a Fire Marshal run amok.

Ignorance Is Bliss

And the decision to put unwarranted pressure on Branches was never discussed at any board of commissioner meetings, so they get to claim ignorance of the demise.

Indeed, even more convenient, the public hearing which will decide the fate of this local business was scheduled after the last board of commissioners meeting and is slated before the next board of commissioners meeting, so the business owner is left with no departmental recourse in stating his case of over zealous and unnecessary enforcement.


Are You Concerned?

Are you willing to let this business be chased out of town by a Fire Marshal intent on enforcement of an obscure technicality that does not jeopardize your safety?


Take action NOW!

Write some letters to the editor of the Federal Way Mirror and let’s focus some light on this!

Hearing Location :

Federal Way City Hall

City Council Chambers

3325 8th Avenue South – 2nd Floor

Federal Way, WA 98063

Here is the notice of Appeal with the hearing dates: Branches Garden Center


Of course, many will say that just because I am the one breaking the news, it must be all twisted and wrong.

Go ahead. Embrace denial and apathy.

Then just try getting your gardening supplies from the wonderful and helpful folks at Branches after the 18th.


Thanks to a reader for the tip!


Also, follow me on the Opinion section of the Federal Way Mirror

Comments are closed.

This site is hosted by: HostGator