East Fork adopts sprinkler regulations

East Fork Fire water tender No. 2 responds to a fire in the Pine Nuts on June 24, 2020.

East Fork Fire water tender No. 2 responds to a fire in the Pine Nuts on June 24, 2020.

New regulations governing construction and fire safety don’t go far enough two retired fire investigators told the East Fork Fire Protection District Board of Trustees.

Former East Fork Fire Capt. Terry Taylor and Carson City Fire Investigator Dave Ruben urged the board to adopt the entire wildland urban interface code.

Trustees approved the new regulations regarding water supplies on Tuesday after receiving only one protest.

Gardnerville resident Patti Graf was caught out when the county decided to repeal sprinkler ordinance on Aug. 4.

Until the repeal, there was an exemption for manufactured homes but that disappeared with the requirement.

That also marks when the fire protection district began work on replacing the ordinance. The district is separate from the county with its own elected board and tax rate.

Fire officials cited state law that allows the district to implement regulations related to fire safety.

“We have limited fire department resources, extended fire department response time due to distance, discovery time, limited access, hazardous vegetation,” Fire Inspector Patrick Mooneyham said. “Anybody here who is familiar with the districts can agree that checks all those boxes. We felt comfortable going with this document.”

None of the building community advocates who previously opposed the regulations attended the meeting.

Retired East Fork Capt. Terry Taylor, who worked on the original sprinkler ordinance, congratulated the board on approving the regulations.

“I think it’s a very difficult thing you guys are doing,” he said. “It’s taken a long time for this to happen here, and we need to do it now. We need to get decent water supplies in for the safety of our firefighters and our property owners.”

Taylor encouraged the board to work on adopting the entire wildland urban interface code, saying Douglas is the only entity that has not adopted Chapter 5 of the code.

“We are not prepared to deal with WUI code, but by adopting it, you’re giving notice to everybody who is a builder, contractor, architect or designer,” he said. “We still need to complete the wildfire protection plan and the mapping. We still need to do those things to properly adopt the WUI Code.”

Saratoga Springs resident Dave Ruben, who recently retired as Carson City fire marshal, echoed Taylor.

“So far a lot of the discussion has been focused on access and water supply, which are big issues,” he said. I want to shift gears and talk about Chapter 5 in the WUI Code, which applies to the district. It doesn’t go into effect until you identify specific WUI areas. Even though the code is forced on you by the state adoption, until you identify WUI areas, the scope of that code applies to specific areas which the district hasn’t identified yet.”

The approved regulations apply to new homes or major remodels that lie more than 1,000 feet from a hydrant. They offer a choice of installing sprinklers, a static water tank or contributing to the operation and maintenance of a water tender.

Homes 5,000 square feet or larger are required to install sprinklers under the current county code no matter how close to a hydrant they are.


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