Ordinance to Help Ease Fire Regulations for Businesses

Mayor David Condon

So you’re thinking about starting a business or expanding your own. Congratulations, and welcome to entrepreneurship!

But then you learn that building codes require you to install fire sprinklers, which could potentially cost $120,000. The high cost “kills the deal,” especially for an entrepreneur or small business owner.

Welcome to the world of regulation.

Regulations are important, because codes are meant to protect us from harm. But sometimes restrictions are so impeditive that development comes to a halt, businesses leave, and jobs aren’t created. That’s exactly what has happened because of high costs associated with fire codes.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Determine the thing that can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.” Well, that’s exactly what the City of Spokane did – it found a solution and amended numerous fire code requirements, like increasing the allowable distance for a fire hydrant for a building without sprinklers from 250 to 500 feet, and increasing allowable distance between the fire hydrant and the Fire Department connection from 150 to 500 feet.

“I applaud Mayor Condon and the City Council for the work taken to pass this ordinance,” said GSI’s Small Business Council Chair Greg Stewart-Longhurst, owner of Stewart & Associates, PS. “The Small Business Council has spent significant time discussing fire codes and their impact on business, and I feel this is a huge step in the right direction.”

The ordinance certainly is a win for our businesses because it makes it easier for someone to start or expand a business.

Thank you to the City of Spokane for finding creative ways to develop a better environment to do business in Spokane. We look forward to future developments in the months ahead!

A Little Background on GSI’s Small Business Council

Since discussions began in 2010, GSI’s Small Business Council continues to address and applaud the city’s efforts to streamline the permitting process, providing feedback along the way while the heavy lifting takes place at City Hall. The Council has met with Mayor Condon, Scott Chesney, other key staff from the previous and current administrations at the City, and other local municipalities, uncovering a lot of foundational issues – one being codes.

The Council has learned that the state of Washington adopts the codes. Municipalities then must abide by the minimum set by the state. However, there is some flexibility that local municipalities have – which is what happened in the case of this new ordinance regarding fire codes.


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