The City Council will vote in two weeks on a tighter new fire code that will require sprinklers in nightclubs and dance halls where 100 or more people congregate.
Fire Capt. Seth Miller showed the council a short video of a nightclub fire in New Jersey in 2003 in which 100 people were killed.
He said sprinklers are expensive, but he said it is "a fraction of the cost" of a major fire in which multiple people die.
He noted that the New Jersey town where the fire happened has offered to settle lawsuits for $10 million.
The new section of the code applies to dance halls, discotheques, nightclubs and assembly halls with festival seating.
Capt. Miller said the section may apply to up to 35 local facilities. He said an initial count was less than 20, but he said some were likely overlooked.
Some examples of facilities that would be under the code were given as the Station House at the Chattanooga Choo Choo and the Allemande Hall in East Brainerd.
It would not apply to restaurants - just to facilities where there is live entertainment, officials said.
Fred Robinson, owner of the former Brass Register site on Georgia Avenue, said he is facing a cost of $60,000 for a sprinkler system.
He said he had entered into a lease with operators of a sports bar at the site before learning of the new requirement.
However, officials said the rule will not apply to sports bars - only to those with live entertainment.
Officials of Luken Holdings were assured the new code would not extend to office buildings.
The sprinklers would have to be in place by the end of 2012.