LA Mulls Creating Stronger Fire Protections for Buildings - NBC Southern California
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LA Mulls Creating Stronger Fire Protections for Buildings

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    LA Mulls Creating Stronger Fire Protections for Buildings
    AFP via Getty Images
    Firefighters battle the Good Shepherd Bible Church early morning in Whittier, California on October 31, 2019. - Firefighters battled new wildfires on in California including a fierce blaze in the city of San Bernardino that forced some residents to flee their homes overnight. The Hillside fire broke out after midnight in San Bernardino, a city of more than 200,000 people some 60 miles (100 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said. (Photo by Apu Gomes / AFP) (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

    The Los Angeles City Council's Planning and Land Use Committee Tuesday signed off on an effort to expand the city's fire-resistant building codes, particularly for new structures in high wildfire-risk areas.

    "California wildfires are deadly and can spread incredibly quickly when winds carry embers miles away,'' said City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who introduced the measure. "Year-round fire season is now our reality and we must do everything in our power to save the lives of Angelenos if disaster strikes close to home, including building safer and smarter to resist the flames.''

    Dense population centers like downtown and Hollywood have stronger building codes to withstand fires through the use of treated wood or other building materials, Blumenfield said.

    The proposal specifically instructs the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Department of Building and Safety to prepare an ordinance that would expand Fire District 1 downtown to include all areas within the city covered by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Very High Fire Severity Zone and the city's High Wind Velocity Zone, as well as areas with a population density of at least 5,000 residents per square mile.

    It also instructs the departments to create a fire-resistance plan for all new and significantly altered projects that are more than 150,000 square feet and/or 100,000 square feet if the building is over 30 feet tall.

    "We can't wait until the next fire to start safer construction practices,'' Blumenfield said, adding that one of his staff members had to evacuate during the Getty Fire early last month. "It's unfair to her and all Angelenos if we as a city do not implement stronger building codes to help protect homes and property. Lives depend on it.''

    A date for when the City Council will hear the proposal has not yet been scheduled.