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Construction firms hammering away at fire, radon rules

Construction firms hammering away at fire, radon rules
Thursday, February 23, 206
The Express-Times
WASHINGTON TWP. | Supervisors aren't backing down from a building ordinance that has some construction companies up in arms.

Tepes Construction Co. of Northampton, the Lehigh Valley Builders Association and the Pennsylvania Builders Association are challenging an ordinance passed in January that enforces strict fire prevention and radon control standards in new homes.

Code Enforcement Officer Rick Weaver said supervisors opted for stricter standards than the state's Uniform Construction Code because of the township's rural nature.


"It's a matter of public safety," Supervisor David Hess said. "I know where my house is, it could take 20 minutes to get a fire truck out there. And that's a good response."

The ordinance calls for smoke detectors in garages and attics used for storage or housing mechanics, Weaver said. Other provisions lay out where fire hydrants can be located and how much water pressure is required at each location.

Weaver said the cost to builders is about $300 per home.

"The ordinance was an attempt to formalize regulations that have been in place since 1999," he said, referring to the International Construction Code that served as a guideline in writing the ordinance. "I know there are construction companies out there who will continue to follow these rules, regardless of the outcome of this contest."

Supervisors have 20 days to answer the challenge filed through the state Department of Labor and Industry. Weaver said that unless the challenge is dropped, a public hearing will have to be held in the township to determine if the ordinance is too restrictive.

Reporter Michelle Pittman can be reached at 610-258-7171 or by e-mail at mpittman@express-times.com.

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