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Fire code changes proposed
First public hearing scheduled Thursday
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County commissioners will hold the first of two public hearings on proposed changes to the fire safety and prevention ordinance Thursday night.

Most of the revisions will adopt state minimum standards into the county code, according to a proposed version of the new ordinance.

The state requires counties with a population greater than 100,000 to follow those standards.

The county last revised the fire code in 2005, said Barry Head, division chief in the Forsyth County Fire Department, during a July commission work session.

“As with any ordinance, it has to be revisited from time to time to ensure we’re staying in compliance with current standards,” Head said.

Not following the state requirements opens up the county to liability, he said.

Commissioners expressed concern with the addition of tents and canopies to the list of structures that must be reviewed by the department.

Temporary tents for events will require a permit and inspection, with the exception of those that have all sides open or are smaller than 200 square feet, Head said.

Head said most local tent companies already follow the state standards, but the department will be able to issue the permit under the code change.

The fee for the permit has been proposed at $100, but other requirements such as lighted exit signs could add to the costs for tent companies, commissioners noted.

The commission asked staff to contact those business owners prior to the public hearings.

Most of the other changes to incorporate state standards were presented without dispute, such as increasing the minimum distance between fire hydrants.

Some county-initiated changes would require anyone getting a new building permit for a business to include a key box on the exterior so firefighters could gain access after-hours and a means to shut off electricity in emergency situations.

Another addition would allow a provision to recover costs incurred by the department from an incident caused by someone acting “negligently or in violation of this ordinance,” the proposed changes state.

Two public hearings are required before the commission can vote on the code revisions.

The first will take place at the 5 p.m. Thursday meeting in the Forsyth County Administration Building.