BEND, OR -- With temperatures in Bend forecast to dip into the single digits, this week, the City Manager declared a weather emergency, Monday. Bend Deputy Fire Marshal Cindy Kettering tells KBND News, "When we have temperatures that drop below 25-degrees, consistently, it enables some of the shelters to temporarily increase their capacity and other locations that aren’t normally shelters to become shelters, if they meet the safety guidelines and are approved."
Kettering says the city is trying to help provide more options for the homeless, during winter, "We often see cold snaps where temperatures drop into the single digits, or even below zero. And that’s a condition that can be dangerous, if not outright deadly, for people who are camping outdoors."
Bend Fire inspects all shelters before they're allowed to open. Kettering says whether it's a permanent shelter that wants to exceed it's normal capacity during the cold weather, or a temporary shelter that wants to open, all must comply with safety guidelines, including building and fire codes. "We ensure that exiting is adequate; that they have working smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms; that they’ll have staff providing fire watch; that they meet all the requirements in order to provide a safe place for people to either come in and warm up, or possibly sleep, as well."
Last year, both the Bethlehem Inn and Shepherd’s House were approved to exceed their normal capacity, and two other locations received emergency shelter approval. This year, Kettering has approved one temporary shelter and expect calls from more, this week. The weather emergency declaration is in effect through the end of February.