Bloomington defends tough smoke-detector ordinance

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The city of Bloomington argues in its defense of an ordinance requiring hard-wired smoke detectors in rental properties that Indiana law allows local rules to be tougher than state regulations.

Bloomington property owners sued in July to block the smoke-detector ordinance after the city council passed the rule in November 2012 requiring rental property owners to install hard-wired smoke detectors by Dec. 31, 2018.

Their suit argues that Bloomington's ordinance is ineffective and unenforceable because state law allows for multiple types of smoke detectors, while the city requirement would limit landlords to one type.

But Bloomington assistant attorneys Greg Small and Patty Mulvihill wrote in their request for summary judgment in the case that Indiana's smoke-detector regulations allow city ordinances to be tougher than state code, the Herald-Times reported.

"State law says smoke detectors can be either battery-operated or hard-wired. The city, in the interest of public safety, chose to pursue the more stringent requirement of hard-wired systems," Small and Mulvihill wrote.

Indiana law requires all smoke detectors to be battery-operated or hard-wired. It also allows for city regulations to be more stringent or detailed, although they cannot conflict with state code.

Attorney Michael McBride filed the suit in Monroe County on behalf of Fierst Rentals LLC, Hays Building LLC, the trusts of Marjorie Hudgins and Donald E. Geels and John and Sharon Kirtland. He also has requested summary judgment in the case.

Bloomington's requirement has not been sent to the Indiana Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission for approval. McBride argues that it should be subject to approval by the commission because it was "established to safeguard life or property from the hazards of fire," which makes it a fire safety law and building law.

Small and Mulvihill contend the panel does not need to approve the ordinance because it involves installation of residential smoke detectors, which are exempt from commission approval.


  • commies
    City and Co gubment hear in Bloomington have become nothing but communist Anti Americans.
  • Questions?
    As a former landlord, I have some questions about the regulation. If it is such a good regulation, why does it not apply to ALL residences in Bloomington instead of just rental properties? I haven’t seen any of the homeowners in Bloomington clamoring to get it expanded to them. What prevents a tenant from disconnecting the hard wiring and capping the lead to the detector? If this is done, and a fire occurs, who is too blame then? Is the landlord responsible for regularly inspecting the detectors for functionality and how would this be enforced? I ask these questions with my daughter living in a rental unit in Bloomington for at least the next 18 months. From the surface, this looks like another stupid law that is just another over-reach of the city council. Tenants will do whatever they want and that is mostly why I am not in the business any longer. When will bureaucrats stop trying to protect us from ourselves? My best guess - NEVER!!!
  • Commission Approval
    I think a key issue here that has not been mentioned is that the City of Bloomington submitted all but two chapters of the newly revised Property Maintenance Code to the State Commission for approval. The Commission rejected all chapters sent and the City of Bloomington is no longer enforcing those chapters. The two chapters that were not sent includes the smoke detector chapter. Many landlords in Bloomington think the smoke detector chapter should have been submitted to the Commission. If the Commission were to approve the Property Maintenance Code in its entirety or even the smoke detector chapter, then they acknowledge the City followed due process. It has to have Commission approval.
  • Greed - Nothing More Than Greed
    Landlords are more interested in the bottom line than the death toll from an apartment fire that injures or kills other residents. By the way, the Building Code allows for local Building Departments to make specific changes and requirements to any section of the Residential or Commercial Code.

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