Fire protection, Green Building Standard take priority
Improved energy efficiency, additional emergency lighting, and other fire safety measures will now be required on new construction projects in Mt. Crested Butte.
More than 20 changes and additions were made to the town’s building code following the Town Council’s approval of ordinance No. 4 on Tuesday, November 3.
Many of the updates dealt with fire codes or safety features. The Crested Butte Fire Protection District (CBFPD) has been working with the town staff and making suggestions during the update process.
At the meeting Reed Meredith, chairman of the Crested Butte Fire Protection District board, discussed a few of the Fire District’s suggestions with the council and presented a letter from Fire Chief Ric Ems.
Meredith thanked the town staff for making many of the CBFPD’s requested changes. “They’ve worked through many of the issues in adopting the 2006 International Fire Codes,” Meredith said. However, he wanted to let the council know that town staff did not incorporate all of the 2006 International Fire Code into the ordinance, and the Fire District was concerned about a few items that were left out.
The Fire District reviews building projects in town, but it is not necessary for a building to get the district’s approval in order to get a building permit. Meredith said the Fire District would be reviewing projects to the full 2006 standard. “That could lead to projects being failed from the Fire Protection District but passed by the town… The town could be assessable to additional liabilities in approving what was a denied fire code violation,” he said.
Meredith then listed some of the missing code sections the district was concerned about, including requiring adequate water flows to fire suppression systems, and the standards for fire access roads to buildings.
After the public hearing, Mt. Crested Butte Community Development Director Bill Racek said he had discussed most of the proposed code changes with the council during a previous meeting. “The outstanding issue that remains is the gulf between what I’ve written and what the Fire District denies,” Racek said.
Racek said during revision of the town’s zoning code, “We agreed that all design reviews are subject to comment from the Fire Protection District.” He said the district gets notified of proposed projects and gets copies of the designs. Racek said that gives the Planning Commission and the Town Council a chance “to decide whether those requests are warranted.”
Meredith agreed that it was a good process.
Mayor William Buck clarified that those comments were made on an individual project basis.
Meredith concurred and said he wanted to make sure if the district gives advice about a project, the Town Council and Planning Commission would take it.
Buck told Meredith, “We regard and hold very high the comments from the Fire District.”
Buck then asked Racek to describe the new green building standards. Racek said the National Green Building Standard was included as part of the town’s recently adopted Energy Action Plan.
“It requires new construction and additions to exceed the baseline minimum performance from the 2006 International Energy Code by 15 percent,” Racek said.
He explained that the performance could be measured in two ways. A prescriptive-based measurement would require the use of certain materials and building techniques, such as better insulation or framing techniques to improve efficiency.
A performance-based measurement would not rely on specific building techniques or materials, but would require a contractor to prove that the building is more efficient by using something like a blower door test.
Councilman Mike Kube asked about the new requirement for construction management plans. Racek said the town usually asks for a construction management plan for different projects—now it would be required by code.
Some of the other changes that were not discussed during the meeting include: a requirement for additional low-level emergency exit signs; increased requirements for emergency lighting; changes to regulations over gas lines and service components; a requirement for window well covers; a requirement that fire suppression system contractors be licensed in Colorado; a requirement for snow and debris removal around fire hydrants; a requirement for an audible alarm for sprinkler systems in buildings with more than two units; a requirement for an easy access panel for decorative shrouds for gas fireplaces; increased requirements for having manual fire alarms; and, finally, a list of locations where storage of fuels or cryogenic substances is prohibited.
The council voted unanimously to approve ordinance No 4. Copies of the ordinance and the town’s building code are at www.mtcrestedbuttecolorado.us.