In a case of legislative whiplash, it appears there’s been a change of heart on a compromise involving an ordinance governing sprinklers in new homes more than 1,000 feet from a hydrant.
A second first reading of the revised ordinance is scheduled to go to commissioners 9 a.m. today.
That ordinance as presented not only eliminates the requirement for sprinklers in mobile homes or homes destroyed in natural disasters but also the requirement for new homes that are more than a hose length from a fire hydrant to install sprinklers.
East Fork Chief Tod Carlini and Deputy District Attorney Sam Taylor both referred inquiries about the changes to Chairman Mark Gardner, who said he didn’t have anything to add.
The prospect may prompt East Fork Fire District trustees to implement their own requirement. They were scheduled to discuss that proposal at their 1 p.m. meeting Tuesday, after The Record-Courier goes to press.
“District staff was able to weigh in on those modifications which initially appeared to repeal the entire requirement as it related to the East Fork Fire Protection District,” Fire Marshal Amy Ray said.
However, the ordinance introduced on July 7 is not the ordinance that will be reintroduced today.
Builders are arguing against the requirement citing the increased cost of a home.
However, the county and the fire district were on the same page in 2019 when the ordinance was first approved.
“The purpose for installation of a residential fire sprinkler system is to allow occupants of a residence to exit their home safely in the event of a residential structure fire,” Ray said. “They also are designed to, and do in most cases, fully suppress a fire which starts on the inside of the residence.”
Firefighter safety is also improved by the sprinklers as they help prevent flashovers and backdraft conditions.
“The residential fire sprinkler system can contain interior fires, buy time for the extended response and not subject firefighters to those more dangerous situations,” Ray said.
Should commissioners decide to repeal the ordinance, East Fork could implement one of their own, which would mirror the current language in Douglas County’s code.
Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District trustees are already working on a resolution that would adopt the Wildland Urban Interface Code in the Tahoe district effective Aug. 1 and sprinkler requirements. A first reading of the sprinkler ordinance was on June 29.
Under the revision proposed, the county is not seeking to eliminate any requirements in the Tahoe Basin.