Seth Voorhees

Lewisville May Require Fire Sprinklers in Old Town Buildings

City leaders in Lewisville will consider legislation to require fire sprinklers installation in old buildings in the city's Old Town.

Currently, many of those buildings are grandfathered in, from laws requiring sprinklers. Old Town is made up of rows of older buildings that are close together.

Caroline Berend has sold wedding dresses in her Main Street shop for 28 years. She figures it's the only one in Old Town Lewisville with fire sprinklers. She had to install them when she expanded a few years ago. $55,000 dollars spent, out of pocket, with no regrets.

"We're all connected," she said of neighboring shops and businesses. "If one goes down, the other ones... there's a strong possibility."

Lewisville leaders first proposed mandatory sprinklers about four years ago.

"We've got buildings that are well over 100 years old there," said Tim Ippolito, Lewisville Fire Marshal. "In buildings that old they become a real challenge to fight a fire with the firefighters."

And, it's a safety concern.  Lewisville Fire Chief Tim Tittle said enough so, to prevent him from sending firefighters into some of those buildings in the middle of the night.

"At that point we don't know how long that fire has been eating away at the integrity of the building," said Tittle. "And so for me to put people inside with the risk of that building collapsing, it's just not something we're willing to do."

Lewisville's solution, pay the $870,000 dollars it would cost to install sprinklers in about thirty businesses. An issue that heated up in the past week, after fire destroyed an historic business up the road in Denton. There were no sprinklers inside.

"I think it brings it home to a lot of people," said Ippolito. "Because it's a very similar circumstance."

"A lot of people don't even think about it until it happens somewhere," added Berend.

With prevention, the hope is, that it won't. Lewisville City Council will vote on the sprinkler issue Monday.

"To have the city pay for it, why would you not do that?"

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