State Regulators Loosen Restaurant Sprinkler Rule
Posted March 13, 2007 11:40 a.m. EDT
Updated March 13, 2007 1:13 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — The state Building Code Council voted Tuesday to lower the standard for requiring sprinkler systems in dining facilities.
A regulation that went into effect in January required dining facilities that hold at least 100 people to have sprinklers. But the Building Code Council voted to revert to an older standard of requiring sprinklers in facilities seating 300 or more people.
Council member John Hitch, an architect, proposed lowering the accepted national standard, because it was too costly for smaller restaurateurs to meet.
The standard will remain at 100 people or more for nightclubs.
State Fire Marshal Jim Long was upset by the vote. Officials nationwide had worked to tighten building codes after a 2003 nightclub fire in Rhode Island killed 98 people.
When members of the state Building Code Council were asked to excuse themselves from voting because of a possible conflict of interest, no one abstained.