Bath prepares to adopt new, revised fire codes

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BATH — The City Council on Wednesday gave unanimous first passage to adoption of a fire code used by the state, and updating of another.

The National Fire Protection Association wrote both codes, which have been adopted at the state level. Bath has been using the 1985 edition of NFPA 101, “The Life Safety Code,” and intends to adopt the 2009 edition, which the state is using, for the sake of consistency, city Codes Enforcement Officer Scott Davis explained in a March 27 memo to the City Council.

The code “specifies fire safety requirements such as building construction type, number of exits, sprinkler systems, fire alarms, travel distances, fire rating of interior finishes,” Davis said.

“It’s just cleaner and neater if our local codes are the same editions as the state, if you have to take someone to court,” Davis said in an interview Wednesday.

Newer versions tend to grow more strict, and take into account newer technologies, he noted. For example, Davis said, wireless smoke detectors did not even exist in 1985.

The state intends to adopt the 2018 version of the code, and the city would aim to follow suit, he said.

The city also looks to adopt the “relatively new” NFPA 1, “The Fire Code,” Davis said, noting that while it contains fire safety requirements by referencing NFPA 101, it also contains operational safety requirements for matters such as fuel dispensing, cutting and welding, marinas, storage, dust and explosion hazards, and commercial cooking equipment.

The state has adopted that the 2009 version of that code, along with amendments.

Since the council’s approvals update the city’s fire prevention ordinance, the panel must vote twice on the matter. Second passage is expected next month.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.