County Officials Review Codes in Wake of Wildfires

Fri June 27, 2003 - National Edition

TUCSON, Ariz.(AP) _ Pima County officials are considering new construction rules to help make new buildings on Mount Lemmon more fireproof.

The rules would be modeled after an international building code which suggests flame-resistant construction and cleared areas — sometimes known as “defensible space” — for buildings.

County requirements for new buildings could include steel roofs, thicker windows, spark-resistant chimneys or the installation of fire hydrants within residential areas.

”The whole concept is to avoid repeat losses,’ said Chuck Huckelberry, county administrator.

This week, Huckelberry asked county supervisors to consider revising county building codes to include some fire-resistant measures.

Towns including Prescott and Santa Fe, NM, revised their building codes to include such materials after being victims of wildfires.

Huckelberry said officials should consider revising the codes within the next three months, before a large rebuilding effort gets underway on the mountain.

Loma Linda resident Chip Delay owns Tucson Tractor and has been helping run water trucks up the mountain.

Delay said he’s seen the blaze’s fickle devastation.

”There’s no clear rhyme or reason to it,’ he said.

It burned his cabin down to the ground, but skipped the forest surrounding it, he said. In other areas, a neighborhood was destroyed, but a red Mustang convertible was left unscathed on the street.

Delay said he will abide by whatever new building regulations the county adopts when he rebuilds.

But he’s not sure how much difference it will make.

”I’ve been through the neighborhoods up there and there are masonry structures with metal roofs that are gone, steel-structured buildings that are gone,’ said Delay.