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Kendall seeks state fire code change

Updated: February 23, 2013 6:32AM

YORKVILLE — Kendall County officials are looking at backing legislation to allow counties to adopt their own fire codes.

The somewhat controversial move has caused some ripples between the county and some of its fire districts. But officials on both sides are trying to smooth over any bad feelings in looking at whether or not counties should have that authority.

“The county wants to have final say,” said Brian Holdiman, Kendall’s code compliance officer.

Right now, municipalities have authority from the state to pass their own fire codes. In cases where the municipal boundaries coincide with a fire district, such as with the village of Oswego and the Oswego Fire District, or Yorkville and the Bristol-Kendall Fire District, the municipal code supersedes the fire district code.

But in unincorporated areas, according to state law, the fire district code supersedes the county code.

Holdiman said it makes things a bit confusing for someone developing in the unincorporated areas, because the county has to make sure what fire code it is operating under. There are 11 fire districts entirely or partially in Kendall County.

“One might require a sprinkler in a commercial building and the other does not,” Holdiman said.

He said it makes things fuzzy when a developer is looking to locate in the county and can play off one area against another, depending on the fire district code.

“It gets a little murky from an economic development standpoint,” Holdiman said.

To allow counties to pass their own fire codes would require a change in the state legislation, and County Board members have been discussing a resolution to support that for a while.

But late last year, some fire districts got the impression the county wanted to move ahead without consulting them. That was the case with the Oswego Fire District, one of the fire districts that requires sprinklers in commercial buildings.

After discussing the situation at the Planning, Building and Zoning Committee, board members said they would seek out input from the Oswego Fire District. The board is planning to discuss a resolution supporting the legislative change, and send it to area legislators at the Feb. 11 Planning, Building and Zoning meeting.

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