“The code amendments the council approved this week make Georgetown one of the safest places to board your pet in the entire country,” Mayor Josh Schroeder said in a release. “These amendments represent a long overdue change in how the fire code protects these important members of our families. The features animal care facilities are now required to install will help prevent tragedies like the one we experienced here in September from happening again, and we’re available to work with anyone who wants to bring our model to their community as well.”
Under the approved amendments, all existing facilities used for the temporary or permanent housing of animals are to install a fire alarm system within 18 months of the codes going into effect March 9. This will give existing facilities until September 2023 to bring their facilities up to the new standards.
As of Feb. 23, there are 23 existing animal care facilities in the Georgetown Fire Department service area. Of those, 17 do not have fire alarms.
All newly constructed animal care facilities are required to have advanced fire protection features that include a sprinkler system.
Unless sprinklers are otherwise required by the city’s building or fire codes, acceptable alternatives to a sprinkler system are as follows:
- A facility with 50 or fewer animals on-site that has a supervised fire alarm system and Class A finish—similar to the drywall that is used in residential garages—on the walls would not be required to install a sprinkler system;
- A facility with 51-100 animals on-site that has a supervised fire alarm system, fire-resistive materials surrounding the kennel area and Class A finish on the walls would not be required to install a sprinkler system; and
- A facility with 101 or more animals on-site that provides all animals immediate, unobstructed access outside; has a supervised fire alarm system; and provides constant supervision would not be required to install a sprinkler system.
Unless sprinklers are otherwise required by the city’s building or fire codes, a facility is not required to install a sprinkler system if it provides 24-hour, on-site supervision. Such facilities will have to install an approved fire alarm system. Carbon-monoxide detection systems also are required in all newly constructed animal care facilities, while equestrian facilities are exempt.
“Many people, myself included, believe animals are extensions of our family,” Georgetown Fire Chief John Sullivan said. “As a direct result of this unspeakable loss for 59 of our Georgetown families, we took a hard look at our processes and our building codes and have taken several critical steps to ensure we do better by our beloved pets. I wish I could turn back time and prevent this tragedy from happening in the first place. I get some solace, and I hope the families will as well, from knowing we have put measures in place to protect our four-legged family members in the future.”