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Businessman: Fire-Sprinkler Reg

Excludes All But One Business

By CATHY NARDI • Special to

Bernie Zeh tells Common Council a new fire-safety regulation has damaged his business by excluding all but one local company.  Liz Rose of Peter Clark Rentals, left, seconded Zeh’s concerns.  (Ian Austin/

ONEONTA – During last evening’s Common Council, Bernie Zeh Jr. petitioned Council to hear his grievance.

Zeh said his business, ABM Fire Equipment, Hartwick Seminary,  is suffering unfairly due to a recent regulation that requires fire-sprinkler inspectors to obtain a Level II inspectors certificate from the National Institute for Certification in Engineering and Technologies (NICET).

“We were not notified of this change,” Zeh said.

Common Council passed the new code at a January 2016 meeting.

“It wasn’t until August 2017, when a customer called us to say the city would not accept our report that we were even made aware that there had been a change,” said Zeh.

According to Zeh, the only company with a NICET Level II inspector within 100 miles of Oneonta is Fyr-Fyter.  Zeh said he is trying to obtain his Level II certification, but the process is difficult and it may take months before he is able to attain the certification.

In the meantime, Zeh said, he has customers with systems he installed that he is not able to inspect.

“The most important thing is to ensure the safety of the residents,” Mayor Gary Herzig said. “If we have a code that makes buildings less safe, then we need to find out. We need more information. I am gathering some information to look at this.”

In other business, Council heard from Paul Goetz who gave the auditor’s report. According to Goetz, the city is in good financial shape.

“There were no instances of material weakness or significant deficiencies,” Goetz said. “There is a healthy fund balance.”


  • Council decided to prohibit the feeding of nuisance animals as defined by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
  • The City will extend an addition loan for home improvements to the owners of the house at 41 South Belmont Circle through the City’s First Time Homeowners Loan program.
  • Council honored two members of the City Hall staff, Mary Ann Borawa and Gail Smith, for their work.




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