The city of Terre Haute has some housekeeping to take care of when it comes to its fire code. It’s not in compliance with Indiana state laws.
The city’s current fire code ordinance has been outdated for years.
Indiana made changes to the fire code law in the 1970’s, but that change was never adopted locally in Terre Haute–at least not on paper.
Now firefighters are calling for a local ordinance that matches the state law.
The fire code ordinance that Terre Haute has right now is from 1962. It follows the NFPA Fire Code.
“The NFPA is a document that governs guidelines and fire prevention,” says Norm Loudermilk, Assistant Fire Chief of the Terre Haute Fire Department.
There’s nothing wrong with the NFPA code, except for the fact Indiana, as well as other states in the Midwest, dropped it for the International Fire Code in the 1970’s.
“We’re moving away from this type of code, at least on paper, to the International Fire Code, and the International Fire Code is something we’ve been following since the 70’s when the state of Indiana law changed,” says Loudermilk, “so all we’re simply doing is bringing our law into compliance with state law.”
That’s why the fire department is working with the city council to update the ordinance locally. They’ve already been doing fire inspections every day. That won’t change.
“We want to make sure these places are safe. That’s why we do our inspections,” says Jeff Fisher, Chief of the Terre Haute Fire Department.
The only difference now would be including a fee for those inspections. Fisher says doing this for free means there’s less money to spend on fire prevention programs, including educating children on fire safety.
“The schools are not going to the fire houses anymore. They can’t afford it. The schools are not coming out to our training center, out to our smoke house anymore, because they can’t afford it. We are now going to the schools, and it costs a lot of money,” says Fisher.
The Terre Haute city council is scheduled to vote on this updated version of the fire code ordinance at their meeting Thursday night.
No matter the outcome of that vote, the fire chiefs say they will continue to follow state laws under the International Fire Code.