Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Firefighters v. Night Club Owners: Skirmish Over Fire Codes in Council Tonight

Typically bills before the Metro Council pass on first reading without discussion so that they can be considered in committee. However, tonight CM Jim Hodge pulled a bill sponsored by Rip Ryman and Buddy Baker for debate that would amend stricter fire codes for buildings into Metro codes. Hodge argued that the bill was not the same bill that was supported by the administration, which supported something called the "international" code. Hodge alleged that the Ryman-Baker bill would place hardships on businesses.

CM Bo Mitchell stood in support of Ryman-Baker. He maintained that their bill was consistent with what the men and women who risked their lives going into buildings to fight fires were asking for, in contrast to what night club owners were asking for. I took a glance a the bill and the reference to night clubs has specifically to do with installing sprinklers:
J. Section of the 2006 Edition of the NFPA 1 Uniform Fire Code, which is a part of the National Fire Code, is hereby amended by deleting subsection in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following new subsection Where the occupant load exceeds 100, the following assembly occupancies shall be protected throughout by an approved, supervised automatic sprinkler system in accordance with NFPA 13 not later than June 1, 2012.
(1) Bars with live entertainment
(2) Dance halls
(3) Discotheques
(4) Nightclubs
(5) Assembly occupancies with festival seating
Now that there are going to be 2 options for amending fire codes, it is fair to ask whether it is really unreasonable to ask discotheques that allow more than 100 people to install sprinklers. Or is the administration simply choosing to help out big business over guarding the public safety of consumers?

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