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Homeowners will not be required to have fire sprinkler systems under new building codes
under review for Sumner County.
In August, the Sumner County Commission
will hold a public hearing to allow everyone interested to voice their opinion about the new codes. Following a long discussion on June 15, commissioners approved 22-1 the preliminary codes, a move that allows the public to review them for 90 days before officials’ final approval, scheduled for September.
Urgency is needed as the county is now out of compliance, using the 2006 International Codes Council codes that have essentially expired.
According to state law, jurisdictions are required to stay within seven years of the latest published ICC codes. The council publishes new codes every three years. The 2015 ICC codes are the latest published rules. A jurisdiction may not adopt codes older than those from 2009, county attorney Erika Porter said.
Several commissioners sought clarity on the codes and their passing process on June 15 to ensure constituents are well informed and have ample time to review the new rules. Although some commissioners felt they need more time to study the codes before the initial approval, Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt, per advice from county attorneys, said officials needed to act promptly.
“We’re already out of compliance,” Holt said. “If we don’t pass something very soon, we will have no codes in the county. None. You can build anything you want, any way you want, any time you want and anywhere you want. That’s a disaster.”
The state fire marshal has visited with county attorneys, Holt said, and he “warned us that we’ve got to update our codes system.” Since county officials are moving the process forward, the state is not stepping in. The county was supposed to have new codes in place by the end of June.
“Recognize that if we do not adopt something, the state will come in and make us follow whatever rules they decide to put forth, and that’s going to be a whole lot stricter than what’s in front of you now,” county attorney Leah May Dennen said. “So just keep that in mind.”
Codes available for viewing
The proposed rules are an amended version of the 2015 ICC building codes, which are now available at the Sumner County Administration Building
in Gallatin at any time during business hours.
Based on public input, these preliminary codes do not require homeowners to install fire sprinkler systems, as the 2015 ICC codes do. The county is able to opt out of that rule with a recently passed law that allows jurisdictions to omit that requirement for one to two-family dwellings and certain types of townhouses, Porter said.
“Sprinkler systems can be expensive,” Porter said. “We feel it should be the homeowners’ choice if they want to install a fire sprinkler system. If someone wants to have it, they can.”