At a recent meeting, the Woodstock City Council approved the first reading of a handful of amendments for the Land Development Ordinance regarding fire-related matters.
Assistant Fire Chief Jimmy Eley presented information on these proposed amendments at an earlier meeting for the council to consider. He returned during the Oct. 12 meeting to go over the changes once again as the first official reading of the amendments was considered.
“Thank you for hearing this request, and I have four desired outcomes,” Eley said. “The first is to adopt best practices as it regards to fire hydrant placement and fire flow requirements. The second is to clarify fire apparatus access road requirements. The third is to delete repetitive or contradictory codes for ease of use, and then after the public hearing, we’ll talk about the code regarding the fire sprinkler ordinance that we’re asking to delete.”
When looking at fire flow requirements, Eley said the fire department was asking to have Appendix B of the International Fire Code adopted, which would shift the fire flow requirements away from a set 1,000 gallons per minute across the board, instead using a table calculating the required flow based on the type of construction and size of the building involved. In addition, by also asking to adopt Appendix C, it would take the city from a standardized 300 foot separation in commercial areas and 500 feet between hydrants in residential neighborhoods to a format where separation would be determined by the type of hazard being protected and the required fire flow in that area.
In terms of access road requirements, Eley explained the changes would involve the clarification of aspects of the code including turning radius for fire trucks.
“Basically what we want to do is we want to, one, make certain that we have 20-foot wide clear fire department access, no matter what, no matter what kind of curb you have,” he said. “We want to change the wording from a customary 25-foot turning radius to turning radius that’s measured along the curb, so it’s more precise. Third, in that same chapter, we’d like to add language that requires a fire department connection to be located within 50 feet on the same side of the road as the fire hydrant, and that just codifies current practice.”
Lastly, due to the ordinance’s chapter regarding sprinkler standards being repetitive with sections in other chapters of the law, as well as contradicting some of these other portions of the ordinance, Eley was asking the entire sprinkler standards chapter simply be deleted.
“My primary question would be, does this bring us in line with local jurisdictions that surround us as well?,” Councilman Colin Ake asked.
Eley responded, “As a matter of fact, the Appendix B and C have been adopted by Cherokee County, so that brings us in line there. The street widths are a local need and not necessarily the same as Cherokee County. The FDC (fire department connection) is simply a best practice we’ve been doing for 10, 15 years.”
Nobody signed up to speak during the public hearing portion of the reading, and a subsequent motion to approve the first reading on these changes was approved in a 6-0 vote of the council.
Eley also brought forth proposed changes to the city code chapter on fire prevention and protection. Under these changes, the fire department was asking the council to consider deleting the local commercial sprinkler requirements and change them to follow the code adopted by the State of Georgia and Cherokee County. Along with this, there was also a request to move the requirement for licensed sprinkler installers to a different portion of the code and change the term “licensed sprinkler installer” to “licensed sprinkler contractor.” The council had no additional questions regarding these potential changes, and as this first reading had not been advertised as a public hearing, it was noted a public hearing would be held prior to the second reading. A motion to accept this presentation as the first reading was then approved unanimously.