New state law creates obstacles for codes officers

CHENANGO COUNTY – New state legislation requiring homeowners to notify local governments of newly built or rehabilitated structures with truss type, pre-engineered wood construction has county code officials scrambling to find the best way to enforce the law county-wide.

Effective as of Jan. 1, state law mandates that anyone who uses truss construction in any new building project report it to their respective codes office. The legislation was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in September in an effort to improve firefighter safety across the state.

“From a fire safety standpoint, trusses will behave differently in a structure fire,” explained Steve Fox, codes enforcement officer for Chenango County. While the truss construction method is safe for normal use, he explained, it can become fragile and collapse with little or no warning when exposed to fire.

“There have been so many instances when truss floors, ceilings or roofs have collapsed on firefighters during a fire. Trusses are a great way to build and reduce waste, but once they catch on fire, they deteriorate quickly,” said Norwich City Codes Enforcement Officer Jason Lawrence. “This law is driven by instances of that happening during a fire and firefighters were put at risk.”

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