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Commissioners discuss prohibiting vinyl siding for new buildings

Forsyth County Commissioners could soon prohibit a type of home siding in order to try and limit fire damage.

At a recent work session, Forsyth County commissioners voted 3-2, with District 1 Commissioner Pete Amos and District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills opposed, to go ahead with a change to the county’s unified development code to not allow vinyl siding for new construction.

Fire safety was given as a reason for prohibiting the material.

Forsyth County Fire Chief Danny Bowman said the county has had two major fires in 2004 and 2006 with vinyl siding being a factor.

“Five houses were burned to the ground and a dozen severely damaged. The epicenter of that fire was 1,500 degrees,” Bowman said. “Another occurred on March 31, 2006 … four houses burned to the ground [and] four were severely damaged. What’s the common denominator? Vinyl siding, built fairly close together — fairly close being eight to 10 feet… .”

Bowman also brought up an arson fire in Paulding County that happened on Sunday, Feb. 17 and damaged 20 homes with vinyl siding.

“In this kind of fire here, you don’t put water on the fire,” Bowman said. “You protect the houses that have not yet caught on fire.”

Commission Chairman Todd Levent said the change would only impact new construction.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand the liability [and] risk they are putting themselves at,” he said. 

Mills said she opposed the motion as she had concerns for those wanting to renovate homes.

“I just don’t create a situation where people won’t upgrade their houses because they can’t afford it,” she said. 

Levent said those homes would not be impacted by the motion.