Chattanooga Fire Chief Lamar Flint on Tuesday night spoke against the City Council rescinding a prior ordinance requiring sprinklers at bars and clubs.
However, the council proceeded to approve the ordinance on second reading.
Also speaking against lifting the sprinkler requirement was former Fire Chief Randy Parker. He said safety was the number one focus of firefighters. He said, "We have pulled people out of burning buildings and we don't want to do that again."
Former Mayor Jon Kinsey against spoke in favor of doing away with the requirement, saying most of the involved businesses could not afford the change.
He had said earlier that he would not install sprinklers at the steel and concrete building at the Chattanooga Choo Choo where Track 29 operates.
Mr. Kinsey said, "There is no question that sprinklers are better. It would be better if every home had them. It would be better if Memorial Auditorium with its 4,800 patrons had sprinklers." But he said it is not practical to install them at many sites.
Michael Alfano, longtime owner of the Comedy Catch, said he and other clubs have taken a number of other safety precautions.
He said there has not been a fire death at a club in the U.S. in over 10 years. He said the Rhode Island nightclub fire was "a perfect storm" involving use of pyrotechnics in an old wooden building with cheap insulation and many exits locked or blocked.
Current firefighters and retired fire marshal James Whitmire talk about the change
- Photo2 by Brent McDonald (See video on NewsChannel 9)