GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) – The Georgetown City Council unanimously approved changes to the fire code Tuesday evening, creating stricter fire precautions for pet care facilities.
This comes after a deadly fire in September 2021, where 75 animals were killed at Ponderosa Pet Resort. There were no personnel at the facility at the time, and the building had no fire suppression system.
All pet care facilities are now required, at a bare minimum, to have a fire alarm system if the building cannot be occupied overnight. If there is no alarm system, people must stay in the building overnight.
“The biggest challenge I had was realizing that night that we lost 75 animals and 59 families were torn apart because of an oversight I had in the fire code,” said said Georgetown Fire Chief John Sullivan.
Pet care facilities have 18 months to make changes by adhering to the new fire code, and the new codes will take effect March 9. That gives existing facilities until September of next year to bring their facilities up to new code standards, the city explained.
As of Wednesday in the city, there were 23 existing animal care facilities in the Georgetown Fire Department’s service area. The city said 17 of them did not have fire alarms.
The rules are a bit stricter for newly built pet care facilities. These buildings must have advanced fire protection, including a sprinkler system.
If these facilities want to forego a sprinkler system, they may choose to install other fire protection depending on the number of animals they will house.
Electronically supervised carbon monoxide detection systems are also required in all newly constructed animal care facilities.
The city said changes to the fire code make Georgetown’s fire rules “the strictest in the nation for the protection of pets and animals.”