Building Fire Regulations

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Firefighter will urge rethinking on regs

By Jason C. Mattox
Installing sprinkler systems in new residential construction in Batesville will not be a requirement, after a vote last Wednesday by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

The issue arose because a revision in the National Fire Protection Act calls for sprinklers, while the building codes the city uses do not require them.

City leaders, at the recommendation of code enforcement office administrator Pam Comer, voted to allow the more lenient building code to override the national fire code requirements.

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The issue came up during a called meeting last Wednesday, when code enforcement officer John McCollum told the board, “We need to know which way to go.”

No representative of the Batesville Fire Department was present for the meeting.

Fire inspector Brett Childs said he was notified of the decision after the meeting in a phone call from Comer.

“Those of us in the Fire Department are not happy about the board’s decision,” he said.

Childs, whose letter to the editor appears on A5 of today’s edition, said he had prepared several statistics including costs to present to the board, and was not notified of the meeting.

“Fire sprinklers cost on average 85 cents to $1 per square foot,” he said. “That is a small price to pay to save a life.”

Childs said sprinklers will be required in the updated version of the building code next year.

“I have spoken with members of the International Code Council who have told me the requirement will be included in the body of the code when they meet to make changes in 2009,” he said.

Childs will be conducting a demonstration of how much residential sprinklers can reduce fire damage October 11 at Lowe’s beginning at 10 a.m.

Childs notified The Panolian that he would be addressing aldermen this afternoon during a regular board meeting.