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Rep. Sweeney introduces bill to protect commonsense building, fire codes

Legislation would protect Ohioans from harmful cuts to safety regulations
February 20, 2020
Bride Rose Sweeney News

Responding to concerns from building and fire officials, Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) today announced House Bill 517 to exempt building and fire codes from newly implemented rule reduction requirements, which prohibit the adoption of a new administrative rule without simultaneously removing two other rules.

“Strong building and fire codes preserve public safety while safeguarding our economy,” said Rep. Sweeney. “While cutting red tape is important, the new two-for-one method puts individuals and businesses at risk with arbitrary and haphazard reductions. There are better, data-driven ways to strengthen Ohio’s economy without slashing safety regulations.”

Building and fire codes have been drafted and implemented by industry professionals over several decades, evolving in response to specific incidents and safety concerns over time. GOP efforts to reduce state regulations have been met with resistance from public safety advocates, who say that unnecessarily loosening regulations would make Ohioans less safe.

“The State of Ohio adopts building and fire codes into the administrative rules only for consistency and the ease of use of those following them,” said Tom Vanover, Chief Building Official for the City of Cleveland. “The OBC and OFC have been developed over centuries by experts and professionals as a complete body of requirements that are paramount for the safety of our citizens. Any uninformed reductions to these rules can only result in an incomplete, inconsistent and dangerous body of codes.”

This legislation is supported by both the Ohio Building Officials Association and the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association. If enacted, the bill would ensure that local safety codes do not conflict with national guidelines as a result of administrative consolidation efforts at the state level. It would also ensure consistency in codes across Ohio by adding building and fire codes to the list of exceptions already written into rule reduction requirements.