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New spring deadline: Sprinkler reports

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"Spring forward" to Daylight Savings Time on March 8, celebrate the first day of spring on March 20, and file your federal income taxes no later than April 20.

But if you operate a business or non-profit inside the Lebanon city limits that is protected from fire by a sprinkler system - you have another spring calendar landmark to remember this year, too: March 31.
The city's new ordinance requiring local businesses, non-profits and churches to file annual reports on their yearly sprinkler inspections is now being implemented - and March 31 is this year's deadline for them to file their 2014 reports.
To make sure that all affected businesses and institutions are aware of the new requirements and deadline, the City of Lebanon Finance Office has mailed notices out, City Finance Officer Robert Springer said this week.
Specifically, under the new ordinance passed on second reading by the Lebanon City Council last month, the businesses and institutions have a deadline to file copies of their 2014 fire suppression sprinkler report with the required fee by March 31, 2015, Springer said the notices are informing recipients.

'Inspections already required'
Commercial and non-profit businesses were already required by the state to undergo an annual test and inspection of their fire suppression sprinklers and keep a copy of the report on file, Springer noted.
Now they will also be required to submit a copy of those records to the Lebanon Fire Department - and a check for the fee - within 45 days of the inspection.
The fee is $75 for commercial businesses and $25 for non-profits. Facilities owned and used by churches are exempt from the fee, but must also submit the information, according to Mayor Philip Craighead.
There also is a $25 late fee which will be accessed for each full or partial month that the report is late.
Fire Chief Chris Dowell said recently that "only about a quarter of the businesses in town are affected. If they don't have sprinkler systems, this doesn't affect them."
The chief also said the fee will go to the fire department to pay inspectors to go out and check to be sure businesses that have sprinklers are being inspected. "We have some businesses that haven't been inspected in six or seven years," he said.

What's in the reports
The reports also must include a letter listing the size of the inspection port used, the pressure system, the length of time of flow during the test, the gallons of flow during the test, and the name and contact information for the company that conducted the test, according to Springer.
Since the ordinance is new, each business will be required to submit a copy of its 2014 test before March 31, as well as undergoing the annual inspections from now on and submitting the reports to city fire officials.
Ward 5 Councilor Tick Bryan explained that the new requirement was passed so the fire department will know where there are sprinkler systems in commercial and non-profit buildings.
"The Fire Department is trying to determine which buildings have the sprinklers and if they are being inspected," he said. "Smith Furniture caught fire recently and their sprinklers put it out. Their system worked."
All information and the fee should be sent to the Lebanon Fire Department at 112 Hartmann Drive, Lebanon, TN 37087.
"If you have any questions regarding this ordinance," Springer said, "please contact Fire Chief Chris Dowell at 443-2903 or Capt. Kerry Lawson at 305-5148."
The first day of spring is five weeks away, but it also is only six and a half weeks to the sprinkler report deadline. A few hardy robins have already arrived in Wilson County - and Lebanon fire officials hope local businesses with fire suppression sprinklers will be early birds with their 2014 reports, too.
Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at

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