- Associated Press - Sunday, June 14, 2015

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Lawrence officials are considering tougher fire codes at pet businesses after a fire last month at a pet store and an earlier blaze at a boarding business killed several animals.

A proposal that commissioners have received would require pet businesses to have sprinkler systems, smoke alarms that are both hard-wired and monitored by an alarm company, carbon monoxide detectors and other such devices, the Lawrence Journal-World (https://bit.ly/1Id5OZS ) reports. The recommendations come from the owners of Pet World, where a fire broke out last month, and other pet advocates. The Pet World fire followed a November blaze at Christal K-9 in which 23 dogs were evacuated and at least three died.

But so far, there hasn’t been discussion at City Hall about strengthening the fire code for thousands of human dwellings that have lesser fire protection methods in place than what is being considered for the pet businesses.

“I can definitely see how that would open up a whole other ball of yarn if we start to talk about regulations for people,” said City Commissioner Leslie Soden, who also owns a business that provides pet-sitting services for people in their homes. “My No. 1 thing holding me back from that is I don’t want the conversation to get sidetracked from what we’re talking about with the animal-related businesses. That would be a huge topic to talk about.”

The requirements commissioners are considering currently apply to newly-constructed apartment buildings in Lawrence as well. But here’s the difference: Commissioners are considering proposals that would require existing pet-related businesses to install sprinklers and monitored alarms too. That’s a new step for the city. When new fire codes have been adopted in the past, the city has not required existing apartment buildings or single-family homes, for example, to meet the new code requirements, said Jim King, the city’s fire marshal and division chief for fire prevention. Existing units are only required to upgrade to new codes if they undergo a significant remodeling.

That has created a situation where King estimates the majority of smoke alarms in use in the city are the old battery operated type.

Mayor Jeremy Farmer said he’ll be interested to see if the Pet World discussion does cause a larger discussion about fire codes.

“If people are interested in having that type of conversation, we need to have it,” Farmer said.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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