NAPLES , Fla - Naples city leaders are fighting to change a state law they are knowingly breaking.
Fire hydrants throughout the city aren't meeting fire code standards according to Mayor John Sorey.
The fight against the law starts Friday because city leaders say fixing the problem and complying with the law will cost millions.
New homes are going up throughout Naples, but local contractors and architects fear a new fire flow standards could put a halt to the boost in business.
Wednesday Scott Weidle of BCB Homes addressed his concerns in front of the Naples City Council. "This new requirement really has me concerned that we're going to see a huge slowdown in the permitting process as well as building in general."
The State Fire Marshall adopted the law December 31, 2011, but it didn't go into effect until recently. It requires newly constructed homes be built with specific fire flow standards, standards the city of Naples doesn't meet.
"What they've done is put an unfunded mandate on us, the local government and property owners that are just unrealistic," says Naples councilman Gary Price.
The new code requires at least 1,000 gallons per minute to come out of hydrants for homes that are 5,000 sq/ft. The gallons per minute change depending on the size of the home and location of the hydrants, but city leaders say they know for a fact fire flow in neighborhoods like Royal Harbor and Port Royal is much less.
"It's just a very long road with one pipe that goes to the very end and by the time it gets there the flow is reduced," says Price.
If a home is near a hydrant that doesn't put out enough water, contractors and homeowners have several options to comply with the law. One option is to use special concrete, or install sprinklers, but adding sprinklers could cost $50,000-$100,000 or more says Weidle.
"Maybe people will decide not to build homes here because of it. There are significant issues that will dramatically affect this building industry so it's important we get it fixed," says Price.
But, the city doesn't to fix the problem by installing new and larger water lines, something they say will cost taxpayers $40 million. "That's not acceptable," says Price. "We would rather change the law."
The city will begin that quest to change the law Friday when they meet with the state Fire Marshall in a public hearing. The law used to be a recommendation. Friday, the city will ask that the law go back to being just that.
The meeting is open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend. The Fire Marshall will listen to the issues at hand and take concerns back to Tallahassee.
The meeting is at Naples City Hall at 1:00 p.m. Friday February 22, 2013.