Last week, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, voted unanimously to direct their legal staff to prepare a resolution incorporating fire code amendments supported by HBA. After lengthy discussion, the Commissioners requested the drafting of a resolution that included the following items:
- Adopt the 2009 International Fire Code with amendments that are agreed to by the stakeholders and fire districts – 98% of the proposed code.
- Adopt the commercial sprinkler requirements and Appendix B as written in the model code, with no amendments.
- Rejection of Section 102.5 Application of the Residential Code, as proposed, and clarification by amendment to the Code, the Resolution and elsewhere as needed which articulates that the BoCC does NOT approve the application of the fire code in the fire districts and unincorporated El Paso County to:
a) detached one and two family dwellings or townhomes that are constructed on an unplatted parcel, on a lot platted as part of a subdivision containing four or less such platted lots, or on a lot platted as part of a recorded subdivision before December 10, 2013.
b) Factory built units certified by the State of Colorado
c) Those dwellings constructed to federal standards; or
d) Accessory use structures
- Rejection of any provision of the fire code which allows or purports to allow monetary contributions to any fund established by a fire protection district in lieu of meeting any other applicable provision of the code.
- Delete Appendix K – Wildland Urban Interface Code
- Direct staff to evaluate the County’s Land Development Code and consider for adoption the possibility of a WUI code which may include but is not limited to addressing water supply, access and premises identification and hardened structure.
The Commissioners also voted that the fire codes are now under deliberation by the Commissioners, and have been duly submitted for Commissioner action, thereby removing the ability of involved fire districts to attempt to rescind the codes for consideration. The Commissioners met in Executive Session after being threatened with a lawsuit by representatives of at least one fire district, and moved ahead with this procedural move in an effort to ensure that the districts would not decide that maintaining the ambiguous status quo was a better option for them than having the codes clarified in a manner consistent with HBA’s position.
What this means for developers, builders, homeowners is that the fire districts will only review proposed subdivisions containing five or more dwellings to determine water supply, access and addressing and the fire code will not apply to minor subdivision or individual home construction. Also, new commercial construction in unincorporated El Paso County will not require sprinkler systems at the current levels based on square footage and occupancy loads that are three times more stringent than the model code.
Last but not least, the Commissioners directed their staff to move beyond the Appendix K requirements outlined in the fire codes, and instead requested staff to incorporate policy dealing with the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) in their land use codes instead of within the fire codes. HBA also supports this move as a more logical and flexible way to manage construction within the interface.
The next step is the Commissioners will consider the resolution during their December 17meeting. Until that time, a resolution is under preparation, but will not be formally adopted until December 17.
This process is the result of more than 2 years of work by HBA members and staff. Once adopted, the resolution will bring clarity to fire code issues for builders and home owners in Falcon and Black Forest.
Thank you to the HBA fire code review team- Mark Bussone, Larry Whittaker, Josh Peterson, and Scot Gring for their time and dedication to this effort.
And to everyone else who participated in the county work sessions and volunteered their time to support the HBA position.
Please contact Marla Novak, Director of Government Relations, at 719-592-1800, ext 14 for more information or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.