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Martin City Board considers changes to home fire codes

Martin City Board considers changes to home fire codes
The Press 7.9.10 An informal city board meeting had Martin officials conversing on a variety of topics, including the possibility of updating building codes for residential buildings within the city.
The July 6 meeting had city and state officials discussing new state residential codes set to be enforced by the State Fire Marshal’s Office in October. The Tennessee Clean Energy Future Act – signed by Gov. Phil Bredesen last year – adopts both the 2009 International Residential Code and the 2006 International Energy Code. The building codes will apply to the new construction of residential structures as a way to create safer and more energy-efficient homes.
Assistant Commissioner for the State Fire Marshal’s Office Jim Pillow was in attendance to provide information and explanation to Mayor Randy Brundige and city aldermen on the recently updated codes.
“The Clean Energy’s Future Act is going to have a very minimal effect on Martin,” Pillow said. “The only major thing that you’re going to have to do to comply with the act is update to a version of the code from within at least seven years of the latest published edition … either the 2003, 2006 or 2009 residential code.”
According to a handout from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) plans to adopt the 2009 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC). The SFMO will “allow energy code compliance be met through meeting the standards of either Chapter 11 of the 2009 IRC or the 2006 edition of the International Energy Conservation Code.”
The handout also states that the new law will have no effect on city or county zoning, and that the new SFMO code will only apply to new constructions.
Pillow added that Martin – already enforcing adequate building codes – may have the choice of opting out of the new plan. Pillow noted that Martin can file an exemption form to the State allowing the city to instead continue to enforce local codes, assuming these codes are within seven years of the latest published codes. Pillow did say this could present problems for the city of Martin in receiving grants.
“[Martin] has good codes. You all are not facing the challenges that a lot of the counties and cities are,” Pillow said. “The codes are rather simple and most of the things you will find that most of your builders are doing already.”
“As far as grants through economic community development, you have entitled cities — Memphis, Clarksville, Jackson, Knoxville – they’re guaranteed their portion of the pie,” Pillow said. “Then you have everybody else like the Milans and the Martins. We have to sit there and be competitive … will opting out completely knock you out of it? No. But you do lose preference points.”
Mayor Randy Brundige explained that any motion in relation to the new codes would take two to three months to get passed, coming close to the SFMO October deadline.
“You’ve got an ordinance that has to go in on August, be re-read in September and it will take 30 days for the re-reading to become expected in October,” Brundige said. “We’re really cutting a fine line with an October deadline, but we’ll have it in motion to do.”
After some discussion, Pillow reassured Martin officials that the city’s current situation would not cause major problems if the city chooses to meet code standards from within the past seven years.
After Pillow’s presentation, aldermen in attendance displayed relief in regards to the new building codes.
“When we first heard about it, this got me a little bit jacked up,” said Ward 3 Alderman Terry Hankins. “This is not really a big deal. I believe we need to have a code.”
Also at the meeting, city officials introduced and read two new city ordinances.
The first ordinance would rezone a tract of land located off East Main Street from a low density residential to an intermediate business zone.
The second ordinance would rezone a tract of land located off Dustin Laird Drive from an intermediate business zone to a high density residential.
No other business was discussed at the informal meeting.

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