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‘Fire suppression’ ordinance: Residential sprinkler requirement proposed

By Staff | Mar 23, 2013

Two city council members say they want to help save the lives of young children and the elderly while aiding the efforts of the Cape Coral Fire Department.

Three ordinances they say can accomplish that will be heard at Monday’s city council meeting at City Hall.

Chris Chulakes-Leetz and Lenny Nesta are looking to require that automatic sprinkler systems be installed in all new single family and duplex dwellings.

Nesta said the purpose of the ordinance is to help give the youngest and oldest of Cape Coral’s residents that extra few minutes they need to get out of a burning building.

“This gives the extra few minutes of life safety to children 5 and under and seniors until the fire department arrives,” Nesta said. “It’s not to extinguish the fire. The fire department still has to go out there, but it will make things easier because when they enter a building, there is a suppression factor to it.”

They also look to authorize charging the water system utility capital expansion fee for a 5/8 inch meter due to the installation of a sprinkler system, and issue a refund of a portion of the fire and rescue impact fees when a sprinkler system is installed in a newly constructed home.

Some in the construction industry have pushed back because there’s a cost factor, such as the meters, but Nesta said it comes down to putting a price on a life.

“Our numbers say it would cost an additional $2,400 to $2,700. That’s why we were pushing it,” Nesta said. “I’ve talked to the builders. They’re not going to fight it. Who wants to get up there and say they won’t back this?”

Companion ordinances include prohibiting the disconnection of service when a fire protection system is required, except by court order, and authorizing a service charge for a 5/8 inch meter when a one inch meter is required for a dwelling because of the installation of a sprinkler system.

Another ordinance to be voted on include amending the minimum amount of liability insurance required for solicitors from $300,000 to $1 million and providing requirements for veteran’s organizations requesting to solicit on rights-of-way.

“We need to keep those groups that are legitimate and helping our servicemen from being encroached on so our citizens know we’ve made sure that they’re legitimate,” Councilmember Rana Erbrick said. “This one of the mayor’s niches that he likes to be involved in.”

The high amount of liability insurance required ensures that no fly-by-night organizations can solicit in areas of high traffic, which can be dangerous, Erbrick said.

Another would authorize City Manager John Szerlag to refund nearly $19 million in excess funds remaining from assessment areas where the projects have been completed and paid for.

“These were the left over funds after everyone paid in. Now, it’s time to get those off the books and return the monies,” Erbrick said. “It could happen when we finish Southwest 6 and 7 and the other utilities expansion.”

Also on the agenda is a discussion item on the topics the council and the Board of County Commissioners will discuss during their April 12 joint meeting in council chambers.

Among them are the toll agreement, the North Spreader system, Life Support and Lee County EMS services, and animal control.