Commissioners adopt countywide fire code

Hays County now has a Countywide Fire Code.

The new standards and rules were adopted by the Commissioners Court last month. The code became effective Jan. 1 and is designed to provide the basis for fire protection for the occupants of new construction as well as authorize the Fire Marshal to make “fire and life safety decisions” on existing occupancies.

As part of the vote, the county also declared its intent to enforce the 2018 International Fire Code which, among other things, provides “minimum requirements, with due regard to function, for the design and construction or substantial improvement of public building, commercial establishments and multifamily residential dwellings of four or more units” to reduce the risk of fire. The code applies in unincorporated areas of the county.

On the suggestion of County Fire Marshal Scott Raven, the model adopted was the international code.

“Counties of 250,000 or greater and counties that border a county of 250,000 or greater are able to adopt a fire code,” Raven said. “Hays County was the only county along the Interstate 35 corridor from Williamson to Bexar that had not adopted a fire code.”

The code regulates “building construction, exits, fire protection equipment, hazardous materials and processes, heat producing devices, public assembly, fire department access roads and water supply,” Raven continued.

Certificates of compliance or noncompliance will be issued regarding all new construction once it is inspected by Raven’s office. Likewise, the Fire Marshal’s Office will issue permits after it reviews construction and site plans including the types of construction materials and interior finish, location of all exits and distance between exits and the location of fire alarms, automatic sprinklers, emergency lighting “and any other necessary safety measures” required by the code.

“The Hays County Fire Marshal’s Office will review your site plans, building plans and when approved will issue stamped plans and required permits. Inspectors will also do all of the necessary inspections throughout your construction project and issue a Certificate of Compliance prior to you occupying the building,” Raven said.

Under normal circumstances, construction or “substantial improvement” must be within 180 days of when the permit is issued. Also, two six-month extensions may be available.

Permit decisions are subject to appeal to a Board of Appeals, which shall be appointed by the Commissioners Court. The Fire Marshal or his designate will be an ex officio, non-voting member of the appeals board.

Applications and fee schedules are available at the Fire Marshal’s Office at 512-393-7355 or firemarshal@co.hays.tx.us.

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