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Oxford Aldermen Leave Sprinklers Out for Townhouses

By Alyssa Schnugg
News Editor

Developers building townhomes can skip adding fire-suppression sprinkler systems inside the units.

On Tuesday, the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved changes to the city’s building codes but removed a clause that would require sprinklers in all newly constructed townhouses.

Currently, the building code requires them in all other newly constructed residential structures. Building officials requested the city update its code to align with the 2018 International Building and Fire Codes that includes sprinklers in townhouses, and have since 2012.

Building Official Randy Barber said townhouses were left out when the city updated its codes in 2012 because there just wasn’t that many being built in Oxford; however, he said that has changed and the city has seen an increase in building permits being issued for townhouses.

The matter was set for a vote earlier this month; however, it was pulled from the agenda and a roundtable meeting was held Dec. 10.

Aldermen Jason Bailey and Mark Huelse expressed concern that the requirement would drive up construction costs which in turn would decrease affordability for townhouses and about the damage that could be caused by broken water lines during the winter months if the lines are not installed and insulated properly.

On Tuesday, Bailey reiterated his concerns.

“I’ve seen sprinklers do more than half a million in damage over the last 15 years,” he said at the meeting. “There are enough safety measures in place, including required smoke detectors and a two-hour firewall.”

Aldermen approved the other requested changes to the fire and building codes which will go into effect in 60 days.

The upgraded Building Codes can be reviewed online at https://www.boardpaq.com/get?c=O9%2fxzspFO6tVUtGNQX8QFg%3d%3d.

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