OHIO FIRE CODE Officials ensure places comply
The new code will improve understanding of policies among developers, businesses and fire officials.
By JOSH ECHT
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
LIBERTY -- Preparing for an updated code, fire officials began inspecting area restaurants to make sure they were up to new state safety standards.
Liberty Township Fire Inspector Ron Stauffer visited the Belmont Avenue Bob Evans on Thursday.
"Stauffer told us we need to upgrade our Ansul fire suppression system to UL 300 standard by September," said assistant general manager John Travis. "You pull a pin to activate the system like a fire extinguisher."
Restaurants, as well as other Ohio businesses and contractors, will have to comply with a revamped Ohio Fire Code, effective Sept. 1.
The Ohio Department of Commerce and the General Assembly's 10-member Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review accepted the code's overhaul July 29 after 21/2 years of planning.
As the first revamped state fire code since 1999, it will improve the efficiency of the building construction process and integration with the Ohio Building Code, said Pieter Wykoff, Ohio Department of Commerce Public Information Officer.
"The code spells out what you need to do to build, so you have no problems obtaining permits," he said.
The new code does not impose additional permit requirements or fees on the construction industry. Ohio is the 37th state to adopt a new fire code based on the International Fire Code's standards.
"Most states use the IFC as a basis for their individual standards," Wykoff said.
The code mainly affects new construction and remodeled or renovated buildings.
Wykoff said the new code establishes common requirements in both codes, making the building process easier for fire officials, developers, builders and home or business owners.
"The new code includes 45 additional chapters and cross-referencing with the Ohio Building Code," he said.
Wykoff said the fire code's planning process included testimonies, a public hearing and JCARR's final review before approval.
Although Ohio has the 27-member State Fire Marshal Code Enforcement Bureau, he said, most fire departments, such as Youngstown's, will also enforce the code.
Marcia Harris, Youngstown Fire Department lieutenant inspector, said the department follows a specific inspection process.
"We conduct the inspection and file an inspection report listing violations," Harris said. "We give the business or home owner ample time to comply, depending on the situation."
Harris said that if the owner does not comply, the fire department will cite him or her in Youngstown Municipal Court.
"The new code will help everybody in the department do his or her job more effectively," Harris said.
Wykoff said the Department of Commerce will communicate with industries affected by the new code through educational seminars, training and future information on Web sites.