County backs off sprinkler rule repeal

A large home under construction above Jacks Valley Road.

A large home under construction above Jacks Valley Road.

A wildfire that burned a dozen homes in Douglas County prompted a discussion on whether to require sprinklers for homes more than 1,000 feet from a hydrant, but not the one you’d think.

Residents recovering from the Tamarack Fire prompted Commission Chairman Mark Gardner to seek repeal of the requirement.

Since then, Gardner said he had a change of heart.

“A month ago, I asked community development to prepare for a possible ordinance repeal and they were prepared to do just that,” Gardner said. “East Fork Fire trustees met and discussed this item and they brought forward some recommended changes for consideration.”

After consulting with Deputy District Attorney Sam Taylor, Gardner said their position should be considered.

The revision of the ordinance governing sprinklers would exempt manufactured houses.

“It does eliminate the need for manufactured houses to have sprinklers,” Community Development Director Tom Dallaire said. “It adds some provisions that in the case of wildfire or natural disaster eliminates the need for a new home built in its place.”

Dallaire said the majority of homes being built in Douglas County are located within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant

“If you’re within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant, you’re good to go,” he said. “If you’re more than 1,000 feet from a hydrant you would need sprinklers if the home was 400 square feet.”

East Fork personnel defended the ordinance requirements.

“The purpose of a residential fire sprinkler system is to allow the residents time to escape if there is a fire in the home,” Fire Marshal Amy Ray said. “Normally 97 percent of fires that have residential sprinkler systems are contained to one room. It’s like putting a firefighter in the house.”

East Fork Professional Firefighters Association member Patrick Monneyhan said sprinklers give residents time to escape.

“Repealing this ordinance will at some point result in a rural house built to your code experiencing a fire that was much larger than it otherwise would have been,” Mooneyhan said. “We can only hope the residents, neighbors and our members are unhurt in the event.”

Nevada Builders Alliance Chief Executive Officer Aaron West supported the effort to repeal the ordinance.

“By having this ordinance in place you’re not doing anything to preserve those houses,” he said. “You’re talking about adding $40,000 per house to the cost of that house and making it less affordable at every turn.”

A second reading of the revised ordinance is scheduled for July 20.



Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment