Chattanooga City Council OKs first reading of sprinkler law change

Chattanooga City Council OKs first reading of sprinkler law change

September 3rd, 2013 by Joy Lukachick Smith in Local - Breaking News

Steve Splawn with W&W Sprinkler Inc. takes part in a fire inspection at the new Chattanooga History Museum in downtown Chattanooga.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

Chattanooga City Council unanimously passed the first reading of an ordinance that would free most bar and club owners from installing sprinklers inside their buildings.

Several Chattanooga business owners told the City Council today that they would have to close their doors if an ordinance requiring them to install sprinkler systems wasn't changed.

During today's Economic and Community Development committee meeting, Councilman Chris Anderson introduced legislation that no longer would require most bar or club owners to install the costly systems.

Under current law, owners of sports bars, restaurants with live entertainment, dance halls, discotheques, nightclubs and "assembly occupancies with festival seating" are required to install sprinkler systems by Dec. 31.

Lamar Partridge, owner of Lamar's Restaurant, said to install the sprinklers in his restaurant and lounge on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard would cost about $50,000.

"This ordinance as currently written is cost prohibitive for small, family owned businesses," he told the council.

Council members will vote on the first reading of Anderson's ordinance tonight. He is proposing legislation that would essentially mean the city's 2011 sprinkler ordinance would not apply to most venues.

Councilwoman Carol Berz, who originally voted for the ordinance, said if the fire marshal or fire chief spoke in favor of the ordinance tonight she would vote for it.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.