NASHVILLE (WATE) – A new bill making its way through the state legislature would repeal the state requirement that every new townhouse in Knoxville has to have a sprinkler system.
The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Mike Bell, would remove the sprinkler requirement for any newly built single-family townhouse, but would allow local governments to reinstate the requirements by a two-thirds vote on an ordinance or resolution.
Any townhouse without sprinklers would be required to, instead, be equipped with two-hour firewall construction.
Sen. Bell said in a statement that the bill would make the townhomes more affordable for first-time buyers.
SB474 would repeal but then allow local government by a 2/3 vote to reinstate the sprinkler requirement. Just as we’ve done with other single family dwellings, we would be allowing local government to make that call.
This bill only affects single family townhomes. If a local government decides not to require sprinklers then two hour firewall construction has to be used. At least 5 states that join us have amended their codes to allow similar construction options, Kentucky, Virginia, Arkansas, Georgia, and North Carolina.
Requiring sprinklers in single family dwellings adds a significant cost to the construction and can make them out of reach for many first time buyers.
The bill was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this week. Knoxville Fire Marshal Danny Beeler spoke to the committee saying his department is against the legislation.