City Council passes fire sprinkler ordinance for university-affiliated houses

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The City Council unanimously passed on Monday night an ordinance to that would set a new standard for fire sprinklers in housing for university affiliated groups.

At the meeting, Mayor Darwin Hindman thanked the members of the Fire Sprinkler Task Force for coming to a consensus on a "contentious issue" that had been continuously tabled since the council first saw the issue at its meeting on Jan. 27.

The only issue the council had with the task force's recommendations was the language used in the amendment to the ordinance. The council made one amendment to clarify that the new ordinance will require at minimum a 13R sprinkler system, which is one that saves lives but does not ensure structural safety.

There was some debate among the council members about the original wording of the task force's suggested ordinance. Task force chairman Skip Walther said that "no one would opt for a 13 system when a 13R is so much cheaper."

After hearing Walther's testimony, the council decided to amend the ordinance to say that "a minimum of 13R" sprinkler system would be required. The ordinance applies to any housing structure used by a campus group, such as Greek organizations or Christian Campus Housing.

The City Council will decide in the future whether to follow the task force's other recommendation to look into retrofitting and mandating fire sprinkler systems in all R2 buildings, larger residential structures including apartment buildings or duplexes.

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