Fire Code Rule Change Voted Down

Posted at 9:06 AM, Jun 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-16 10:06:27-04

Some people have said a decision by a state committee puts families at risk and fails to protect Tennesseans from dangerous house fires.

Lawmakers voted down a proposal to update the fire code. Right now, Tennessee has been following a fire code that hasn’t been updated in nearly a decade.

Thursday, firefighters and fire victims hoped to see that change, but they left Legislative Plaza disappointed.

The rule up for debate would have required newly built homes to include devices called arc faulty circuit interrupters, or AFCI's, in all rooms of a home.

Those devices can detect faulty wiring and bad cords from items like lamps and appliances and shut off electricity before a fire starts.

Right now, Tennessee has required AFCI's in new homes, but only in bedrooms.

Fire statistics have shown 83 percent of electrical fires start outside the bedroom, meaning the current code in many people’s eyes has failed to protect a majority of fire victims.

Several home builders spoke out against the rule on Thursday calling the requirement an unfair burden for electricians and consumers, and ultimately, lawmakers agreed.

A spokesman for the state fire marshall's office said Thursday's vote was a disservice to Tennesseans.

'We're disheartened,” Kevin Walters said. “The state fire marshal's office is dedicated to saving lives, and AFCI to a reasonable degree are a means of stopping fires and saving lives. Saving lives of homeowners and firefighters. So the decision today is a disheartening one."

While lawmakers did vote down the rule change, they said they hope to work toward finding a compromise.

They're hopeful a reworked proposal will be voted on sometime in 2018.