Monarch Fire Marshal
What comes to mind when you hear “life is a journey, not a destination”? Author and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson? Rock band Aerosmith? Deputy Chief Roger Herin?
With 36 years in the fire department, Roger Herin has been on that journey. He began his 42-year building and fire code career as a county multi-discipline inspector until becoming a fire inspector for the Chesterfield Fire Protection District, now the Monarch Fire Protection District. “Back in those days,” said Herin, “the firefighters couldn’t understand how inspectors belonged in the fire service. I had a real challenge on my hands, convincing the fire crews that what I did mattered. It mattered for the safety of our residents and building occupants, but especially for firefighter safety.” Since then, the fire prevention division has widened its focus from plan review and inspections to fire and explosion investigations, public education, data management and statistics, IT work, graphic art, and numerous other tasks. “We have streamlined several processes and procedures to help those who use our services.”
Herin now manages 5 inspectors who make his division operate smoothly. “I may determine where the ship is going, but it takes the whole crew to get it there. I insist on communicating with the Board of Directors and the Chief about all the things my team does. The hard work of my team is clearly visible now and they get the recognition they deserve.”
Herin believes strongly in training and education, and you will often find him and other Monarch inspectors at local and state training seminars. Herin himself holds a Master Code Professional certification with the International Code Council (ICC), which includes 33 separate ICC certifications. He is a state certified Fire Investigator, Instructor and Inspector II, and has an Associate Degree in Fire Protection Technology from St. Louis Community College.
Monarch is one of the largest and most diverse fire districts in St. Louis County. Herin explained that it is imperative that fire marshals and inspectors work together with contractors, design professionals, and building owners. “We should all be on the same team, working toward the same goals. When we’re presented with a unique situation, I make it a practice to let the applicant know that we’re excited to see the project come in and we’ll work to help them as much as possible. Some of them act surprised at that.”
Throughout his journey as a fire and code official, he has experienced a myriad of difficult code issues. Herin said that code officials often get “tunnel vision and focus solely on the letter of the code.” He explained, “I always involve the ‘other side’ in coming up with a solution. It may be a design professional, a builder, a developer, a building or property owner, or any combination of those. I do my best to help them understand the reasoning behind the code requirement and ask them how we can accomplish their goal and still comply with the intent of the code. Then we work as a team to find a solution.”
Over the years, Herin has served on various committees for the International Code Council, National Fire Protection Association, and International Association of Arson Investigators, and is the current President of the Metropolitan Fire Marshals Association, and Secretary/Treasurer of the Fire Marshals Association of Missouri.
Herin’s influence has brought several of his nephews into the fire service. Besides both the adventure and the relaxation of the outdoors on his 82 acres of hardwood forest in southeast Missouri, he enjoys playing with, mentoring, and “corrupting” his twelve grandchildren. “I have been very blessed to have been given the opportunity to do this job. God has been very good to me.” Herin explained that his last duty day serving the public will be on April 30, 2021. “I’m excited to find out what’s in store for me after that.”