SHOW LOW — At that regular Fire Board meeting on March 22, the Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District (TMFMD) amended the adopted fire and life safety code to the 2018 International Fire Code (IFC).
The change was made for several reasons, including to comply with requirements of the Insurance Services Organization (ISO) to maintain a current code to receive full credit under ISO’s fire department rating. The ISO evaluates fire departments and then assigns a protection class rating which helps in determining insurance rates for homeowners and businesses within the Fire District. TMFMD maintains an ISO protection class rating three which is among the best ratings anywhere in rural Arizona.
Additionally, TMFMD maintains agreements with other governmental entities in the area. The city of Show Low and TMFMD have an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that demands that the two cooperate to maintain similar codes for the convenience of local contractors.
The city of Show Low adopted the 2018 International Building Code (IBC) last year. “The IFC and the IBC work hand and hand to ensure that buildings are constructed safely and that the Fire District has the two things it needs to put out fires when they occur. Water supply and access to the structure are the two things that the Fire District must have to be able to protect our community” said Brian Russell, fire marshal for TMFMD.
The amendment to the code was a lengthy process that began by meeting last year with local building officials from the city of Show Low, the town of Pinetop-Lakeside and Navajo County.
The building officials and TMFMD officials reviewed the code and any proposed amendments. After that, a public meeting was held to receive input from local contractors. One contractor, Brandon Garvin, suggested to include early detection and notification, along with relevant sections of National Fire Protection Association standard 1,142, the Wildland Urban Interface Code, into the amendments as an additional exception to sprinklers in residential structures when water supply could not be achieved.
The Fire Board incorporated this input into the code amendments. Finally, the Fire Board tentatively approved the amendment in February of this year, posted the code and amendments for public review, held a public hearing, and then voted to approve the code amendment in March.
Chief Bryan Savage stated that the amendment to the Fire District’s code “would have very little, if any, impact on construction or construction costs” as the 2018 code is very similar to the previously adopted 2015 code.
He continued, “this code amendment offers more options to homeowners and builders, provides for the quality of life and life safety of our residents and visitors, and includes an optional community development standard to create fire adapted neighborhoods in the White Mountains.” Justen Tregaskes, city of Show Low Planning and Zoning Commission director, stated “the city and the Fire District have a great working relationship. We support the code amendment and encourage the Fire District to pursue a similar business process with the other jurisdictions in the area.”