Mt. CB council talks building codes, stuck on sprinklers

“To sprinkle or not to sprinkle”

By Kendra Walker

The Mt. Crested Butte Town Council approved an ordinance on January 21 for the adoption of 2015 International Building Codes, a regular adoption that town staff undertakes every three years. The purpose is to update the building codes that will be applied throughout the town.

Community development director Carlos Velado explained that with this town would be consistent with the code that is adopted by the town of Crested Butte, the city of Gunnison and Gunnison County.

Since the first reading approved by council on December 17, a new section was added regarding lofts. “We’ve already run into some challenges with our STR [short-term rental] program in how we address lofts that have historically been used as sleeping rooms,” said Velado. The new section establishes the minimum standards in order to use lofts as sleeping rooms, which were taken from the 2018 International Residential Code appendix for tiny homes.

Sprinklers have been a hot topic for council in the codes discussion, which Velado pointed out is not uncommon with other local jurisdictions when looking at code exemptions. The language states that all single-family homes in excess of a 3,600 square foot fire area will be required to be fire sprinklered. This is because the required fire flows based on the design criteria for the central water system (fire hydrants) cannot be achieved for a home larger than that size.

“I would like to see that square footage higher,” said council member Nicholas Kempin, hoping to avoid making the cost of building a single-family home in Mt. Crested Butte more difficult. “Sprinklers are expensive.”

“As the building official, life safety is my primary concern, not cost,” said Velado. “I would advocate for all single-family homes to be sprinklered, but it’s not uncommon for local jurisdictions to opt that out.”

Bottom line, Velado said, “If your home is 3,600 square feet or more, we know you don’t have the fire flow. There’s not enough water supply in the system to fight the fire for a house that size.

“I would encourage that we move forward with it tonight and we can still have the fire district come in,” Velado continued. “We can adopt it as is and then we can amend it if needed.”

Council approved the ordinance and plans to host fire department representatives in a work session on March 17 to answer fire flow questions.

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