Mayor Wants To Change Fire Alarm Requirements

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Payson Mayor Ken Murphy thinks part of the town's fire code is unnecessarily costly for some businesses.

He wants the code revised so that businesses that don't have people on the premises 24 hours a day don't have to have 24-hour-a-day alarm monitors.

His proposed change in the fire code, which will be considered by the town council Thursday, already is opposed by Payson Fire Chief Marty deMasi. He wants to keep the requirement for 24-hour alarm monitoring, saying he thinks the mayor's proposal would compromise safety.

"I don't see the need for 24-hour alarm monitoring systems in businesses that do not have any occupancy after they close," Murphy said.

He said his proposal to change was precipitated by the impact of the fire code on the Oxbow Saloon.

"They have gone out and put a sprinkler system in and then they are told they also have to have a 24-hour monitoring system, get a separate phone line and pay an alarm company out of Phoenix to monitor their business when no one is there, Murphy said. "In many cases, it's overkill."

Responding to Murphy's proposal, deMasi wrote a memo to the council saying the change "...would lead to a more dangerous environment for the occupants and users of a particular structure or building."

Attached to deMasi's memo were several news stories and articles about night club fires that killed hundreds of people.

"If a fire broke out in the Oxbow right now, they have a sprinkler system installed and they have alert employees that I'm sure would call 911," Murphy said. "The fire station is right down the street."

"That's why these codes were made," deMasi said, "because these terrible tragedies do happen. Yes, there are some costs with this, but I don't think it's too much to ask.

It's part of the price of doing business. You need to keep your employees and the people who visit your building safe."

DeMasi said changing the fire codes the way Murphy suggests makes no sense.

"I've never heard of a jurisdiction making such a drastic change to the fire code," deMasi said. "It's what the code has required for many years. We'd be going backwards."

Murphy's requested amendment would exempt all occupancies except residences, hotels, nursing homes, hospitals, and correctional facilities from the requirement of a fire-alarm system.

If the majority of council agrees with Murphy, they may direct town staff to draft an ordinance, Carpenter said.

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