JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Council will look at a building code amendment to require sprinklers in residential buildings with three or more units.
Currently, the city requires sprinklers in residential buildings with more than 10 units, but some people are wanting to change this for future construction projects.
Larry Burkhardt is the Jefferson City building official and has been overseeing some of the changes to building codes. He was one of the main city staff people assigned to assisting the committee that has been looking into building code changes.
Burkhardt said Jefferson City was adopting by reference a code by the international code council which recommended around 2006 that all buildings meant for residential type uses have a sprinkler system. Jefferson City adopted the code, but amended the code to not require buildings with less than 11 units to have sprinkler systems.
Burkhardt said the city amended the code five years ago because they "thought it was too much of a cost imposition" to require all residential buildings to have sprinkler systems.
Burkhardt said currently some people are concerned adding sprinklers would be too expensive. He said the owner of the building would probably have to increase rent costs by about $20 each month in order to pay for the sprinklers. He said people are concerned the market couldn't bare this price increase.
"The basic argument people were talking about was that it would place them out of the rental market in Jefferson City," Burkhardt said.
However, Burkhardt said he doesn't see that happening.
"Especially if it is only going to be $20 to $25 more for you to live in a safer place," Burkhardt said. "To me it's a non issue."
Jason Turner, the Jefferson City Fire Department division chief, said the department supports the potential sprinkler requirements.
"I think the most important thing is understanding the purpose of sprinkler systems," Turner said. "They save lives and reduce property loss."
He said the department would like to see everything sprinkled, but are currently working on trying to get multi-family units with sprinklers.
"If you displaced one family compared to if you displaced nine families in a 10 unit building, the impact to the community in the long run we feel is a lot less," Turner said.
The Jefferson City Council plans to review the building codes amendments August 7.