Liberty County commissioners, at their regular meeting on Tuesday, July 14, approved new fire codes that may have an impact on new businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county. These new rules will require businesses to put into place measures that will both prevent fires and aid in fire protection, according to Liberty County Fire Marshal Bill Hergemueller.
The specific codes that the County has adopted are the 2018 International Fire Codes, similar to those already in use in the cities of Liberty, Dayton and Cleveland, Hergemueller said.
The new fire codes apply mostly to commercial properties, and existing properties are grandfathered unless there are major renovations that exceed 51 percent of the property’s appraised value.
“Home day cares and home businesses are not part of the new fire codes unless they build a huge building on their property for the purpose of the business. Even then, it has to exceed 51 percent of the appraised value for the property,” Hergemueller said.
While there will be a period of adjustment as builders and developers learn to work within the codes, Hergemueller believes the end result will be lower insurance rates for commercial businesses and an improved Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating, which could lower homeowners insurance rates depending on the insurance carrier.
“There is no need to panic about the new codes. Commercial building plans will have to be submitted for approval, and it could add to the cost if they have to put in a sprinkler system, but some of the requirements could be as simple as the placement of fire extinguishers,” Hergemueller said. “These are things that will not only protect the property but the firefighters who potentially could be called upon to fight a fire at the property.”
For more information on the fire codes, call the Fire Marshal’s Office at 936-641-7935.