GEORGETOWN, Texas — Animal care facilities in Georgetown now have additional requirements to keep pets safe after the city council approved amendments to the City's fire code.
The changes come after a fire at Ponderosa Pet Resort, a dog boarding facility, last September that killed 75 pets who were trapped inside. No smoke alarm or sprinklers were installed at the facility and no personnel was at the facility when the fire broke out.
Now, to help prevent a tragic event like that from happening again, all animal care facilities are required to install fire alarms. All new animal care facilities are required to have advanced fire protection features that include a sprinkler system or an acceptable alternative:
- A facility with 50 or fewer animals on-site that has 1) a supervised fire alarm system, and 2) Class A finish on the walls (similar to the drywall that is used in residential garages) would not be required to install a sprinkler system.
- A facility with 51 to 100 animals on-site that has 1) a supervised fire alarm system, 2) fire-resistive materials surrounding the kennel area, and 3) Class A finish on the walls would not be required to install a sprinkler system.
- A facility with 101 or more animals on-site that 1) provides all animals immediate, unobstructed access outside, 2) has a supervised fire alarm system, and 3) provides constant supervision would not be required to install a sprinkler system.
Unless required by Georgetown building and fire codes, a facility is not required to install a sprinkler system if it has 24-hour on-site supervision. However, those facilities still have to install an approved fire alarm system. New facilities are also required to install electronically supervised carbon monoxide detection systems.
“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.”
With the new amendments, all existing facilities used for temporary or permanent housing or care of animals are required to install a fire alarm system within 18 months of the codes going into effect, which happens on March 9.
That gives facilities until September 2023 to meet compliance with new fire standards. As of Wednesday, the City said there were 23 animal care facilities in the Georgetown Fire Department service area. Seventeen of them don't have fire alarms. Equestrian facilities are exempt from the new requirements.
According to the release, fire investigators could not determine the exact cause of the fire but had six potential causes involving electrical equipment at the facility.
The fire department has also added animal facilities to its annual priority inspections list and inspected and audited existing facilities in fall 2021 in an attempt to prevent similar incidents from happening.
“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 bring 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.”
Learn more about the new amendments on the City's website.
PEOPLE ARE ALSO READING: