City map augments fire zone
by Courtney Stevens
Aug 20, 2013 | 2043 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Imagine a raging fire sweeping up and down Cotton Row and Sharpe Street. The flames ravishing as they devour each building one by one, smoke billowing in the sky. The fire leaps from one building to the next, hungry for the old wood frames that make up the historical buildings of Cleveland's beautiful downtown area.

The Cleveland Board of Aldermen approved the delineation of downtown Cleveland as a fire district in hope of preventing anything like this from happening.

"Any commercially zoned property should be in a fire district. We have physically created a map to show where the zone is," said Brett Moorman, director of community development.

Moorman said many of the buildings in historical downtown Cleveland are more susceptible to fires because they are made of old wooden frames and combustible material.

Because this area is in a fire district, "new constructions have to make sure the exterior is made out of noncombustible materials," said Moorman.

While current buildings in the district do not need to make any serious changes, they will have to work on structure if they choose to renovate.

"If a building renovates over 50 percent we may ask that those portions be brought under compliance,” he said.

The reason for concern in the downtown area is that many of the buildings are made from combustible materials and sit close together, allowing a fire to jump from one building to the next.

"We want new buildings built to a higher standard, these buildings will look out for their neighbors," said Moorman.

"The fire district has more stringent requirements," said Fire Inspector Gene Bishop.

"New business owners will have good quality buildings that are safe."

The map of the district lays out the property including Court Street, beginning at the Cleveland Courthouse and encompassing all of downtown Cleveland. The district stretches north to cover Sharpe Street all the way up to the Warehouse and the Nehi Bottling Company and also stretches south stopping just after South Street.

While fire codes and regulations have always been in place, this map gives a concrete reading of the fire district, and sets a standard for new buildings.