New single family and duplex homes in Rifle will not have to have fire sprinkler systems next year, city council decided.
The issue was first discussed by council, developers and a fire official at a Nov. 7 workshop.
The 2009 International Residential Code Rifle adopted a few years ago calls for the sprinkler system requirement to take effect in 2013. However, Assistant City Manager Matt Sturgeon had noted that every municipality in Garfield County, except Rifle, opted out of the fire sprinkler requirement.
Instead, Sturgeon proposed the city require each unit of a duplex have a 2-hour rated firewall and unfinished basements include sheetrock on the ceiling of the basement level to protect the passage ways on the main living floor if a fire starts in the basement.
"This helps protect against residents and public safety responders from falling through the floor" if a fire occurs, Sturgeon wrote in a memo to the council. "The current code would have required sprinklers in the basement areas."
Realtor Glenn Ault said the two requirements would add to the cost of constructing a new home, which is already out of reach of developers.
Home builder Jeb Savage said he had a hard time seeing a real advantage to requiring sheetrock in unfinished basements.
"The reason most people have them built in new homes is for future improvements," he said.
City council voted 5-0, with Councilmembers Jennifer Sanborn and Keith Lambert absent, in favor of the code changes as Sturgeon recommended.