Tennessee Streamlines Construction Safety Code Compliance

January 8, 2010

The process for reviewing architects’ and engineers’ drawings for compliance with construction safety codes in Tennessee has just gotten easier and less expensive, with the implementation of an online portal application.

The new State Fire Marshal’s Office’s (SFMO) electronic plans review system allows for plans, documents and review fees to be submitted over the Internet. The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance’s SFMO enforces fire and building construction safety codes for certain types of buildings. For these occupancies, an architect’s or engineer’s design drawings are submitted for review and approval by the state before construction begins.

“This new portal means that our plans review office is essentially open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for document submission and fee payment,” said Commerce and Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Leslie A. Newman, “including payment by e-check. Building plans involve very large files, and having them in our office as electronic documents will make it much easier to access, store and archive these plans. As documents are reviewed and any needed re-submittals are made, the time and money savings for construction projects will be significant. Upcoming phases of this project will provide additional automation and time accountability regarding a project’s status.”

Architect Peter Heimbach of the firm Beeson, Lusk and Street Inc. submitted the first set of plans using the new application for renovations to L. Clement Hall at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. He said submitting the plans for the project electronically saved $200 in document production and transmittal costs for the project. Heimbach was one of a group of architects who also reviewed the project prototype.

The SFMO will host a webinar at 1 p.m., Jan. 11, 2010, to assist design professionals in the use of the application. The webinar will be free to design professionals.

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