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Georgetown amends fire code following deadly Ponderosa Pet Resort fire

Flowers and photos of dogs are attached to a fence outside the Ponderosa Pet Resort
Allyson Ortegon
Flowers and photos of dogs hang on a fence outside the Ponderosa Pet Resort in Georgetown on Tuesday. A fire at the kennel killed 75 dogs.

The Georgetown City Council voted Tuesday to implement changes to the city's fire-prevention codes in animal-boarding facilities following last year's deadly Ponderosa Pet Resort fire.

Seventy-five dogs were killed in the fire at the facility, which did not have a sprinkler system or 24-hour staffing. The fire department arrived within 5 minutes of 911 calls, but no pets survived.

Given the size of the facility, the city said it was not required to have those fire-safety measures in place. Since the fire, residents and owners of the pets who were killed have demanded the city take action to prevent similar tragedies.

There has been no official announcement from an investigation into the cause of the fire. Georgetown Fire Chief John Sullivan has said possible explanations all point to a problem with electrical equipment.

The code changes approved Tuesday will impact both new and existing animal care facilities. Existing facilities will be required to install a fire alarm system within 18 months of the updated code going into effect on March 9. Seventeen of the city's 23 existing sites do not have fire alarms.

New facilities will be required to have fire-safety measures in place, including a carbon monoxide detection system and a sprinkler system. In some cases sprinklers may not be required depending on how many animals are present on site.

If a facility has 50 or fewer animals, sprinklers will not be required if instead it has a supervised fire alarm system and a specific fire-preventative finish on walls.

If there are 100 or fewer animals, a facility could instead have a supervised fire alarm, fire-resistive materials surrounding kennels and the wall finish.

Facilities with 101 or more animals could also be exempt from the sprinkler requirement if they offer animals immediate access to the outside, provide constant supervision and have a fire alarm in place.

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Allyson Ortegon is a former Williamson County reporter for KUT.
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