Fire chief willing to fight over state regulations
Jeffersontown's Fire Chief is ready for a fight. He plans to sue the state tomorrow over a dispute involving residential sprinklers. It all started with a dispute in Indian Hills over whether local governments can make building codes tougher than the state's code. Jeffersontown Fire Chief Jack Reckner says Kentucky is among the worst in the country for fire deaths. He says it's time to change and if that means changing laws, so be it.
Jeffersontown Fire Chief Jack Reckner says residential fire sprinklers, like smoke detectors, can save lives and homes. So he was upset when he learned an ordinance passed in May by the city of Indian Hills was struck down by the state. The state says local governments are prohibited from creating building codes that are more stringent or fall below the state's standard. The ordinance states that all new developments in Indian Hills must have residential sprinkler systems.
"The term that's used in the industry is mini/max, which means, minimum standards are indeed also maximum standards. But there was no wording in the state building code or the residential code. It simply isn't there," said Reckner.
In August, Reckner says the state then added two administrative regulations to the books to beef up their position. Language, he says, that wasn't there.
"And so they did in fact put literal text in the code where there had been none before," said Reckner.
The fire chiefs association plans to ask a Franklin Circuit Judge for a declaratory judgment. At issue, really this uniform code and the mini/max rule. They want to challenge it and perhaps get it changed.
"We don't want 120 different codes in the state," said Bob Weiss, Home Builders Association of Kentucky.
The fire chiefs can expect opposition from the state and the Home Builders Association of Kentucky. Neither group is opposed to allow individuals to install fire sprinklers, but they contend the state's uniform code should stand.
"We're not debating sprinklers we're debating whether you can be more stringent than the code," said Weiss.
A spokesman for the state declined to comment on the pending litigation. Meanwhile, Indian Hills has continued to enforce its ordinance and is asking the attorney general's office for an opinion.