---- — LANSING — The Boy Scouts of America does not have to install smoke detectors in two-person tents at its Michigan camps, a state agency said Wednesday, reversing an earlier decision that had drawn criticism from some lawmakers.
The Boy Scouts could have been forced to put smoke detectors in about 1,000 small tents at nine camps in the Lower Peninsula under rules covering children's and adult foster care camps.
State Department of Human Services spokesman Dave Akerly said regulations adopted in 2009 under the Granholm administration were interpreted too strictly by licensing officials to apply to two-person tents.
"Common sense will prevail. We agree with the Scouts. There shouldn't be a problem created where one doesn't exist," he said.
Lawmakers who got wind that the Scouts could have to buy smoke detectors said it was an example of government foolishness.
"Nobody wants to see any children being burned. But when was the last time ... a Boy Scouts s'more fire (went) amok?" said Rep. Ken Goike, a Republican from Macomb County's Ray Township.
Frank Reigelman is the outdoor adventures director for the Michigan Crossroads Council, the Boy Scouts organization that serves about 74,000 youth in the Lower Peninsula. He said the group puts smoke detectors in its camp buildings, cabins and yurts, which are tent-like structures with wooden frames.
A 2012 fire inspection report from DHS said the council should install detectors in any two-person tent up for at least five days starting in 2013, Reigelman said. The tents in question are "hybrid structures" owned by Boy Scout camps, not tents brought by troops on their own to the camps, Reigelman said.
Reigelman said he wrote a letter to the Department of Human Services' licensing bureau asking for a waiver or a change to the rules. When it appeared to be a losing proposition, Scouting officials began calling legislators, who in turn contacted DHS administrators.
"Tents are right next to the campfire. You are going to have smoke in them," said Rep. Phil Potvin, a Cadillac Republican and a board member of the President Ford Field Service Council, which oversees troops in the western and northwestern Lower Peninsula. "You're going to have constant beeping in there. How would they hang in tents? Tents are going to leak. They're going to get wet. It's a major expense for absolutely nothing."
Potvin said he appreciated the department's decision. He plans to introduce legislation to make sure smoke detectors are not required in any tents.