Lubbock Fire Rescue is still investigating what caused a fire on Saturday that displaced 11 people from a group home in the 5400 block of 48th Street.
The fire raised some questions about group homes, particularly about safety requirements and the number of people allowed to live in one.
A group home is defined as "A home where a small number of unrelated people in need of care, support, or supervision can live together, such as those who are elderly or mentally ill."
The Red Cross did not assist because they say there was an emergency plan already in place.
The issue is dealt with by City of Lubbock ordinance No. 2006-00006, which reads:
"In all new and existing group housing, at least one portable fire extinguisher shall be provided for each 3,000 square feet and at least one additional portable fire extinguisher for each level; and in each new and existing group housing for less than six handicapped persons and classified by the State of Texas as a Type A or Type B assisted living facility, multiple smoke alarms shall be installed and maintained."
Homes also need to have rescue windows, automatic sprinkler systems and fire alarm systems.
A person wishing to open a group home must file with the City of Lubbock. The ordinance requires that there are no other group homes within a 1,000-foot radius of the home for which the permit is requested.
According to the document, "Six or fewer clients are allowed in a group home as a permitted use. For seven or more clients, it will be necessary for you to make application for a conditional use to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for approval at a public hearing."
Texas state law requires that if you have four or more clients in your group home, you must have a personal care facility license. State law requires no state license for three or fewer clients.
In addition to a filed application a home's floor plan has to be attached along with bedroom dimensions, number of clients in each bedroom and the rooms labeled. The Fire Marshal's Office and Health Department also have to inspect the property.
The city ordinance gives an exact square footage needed for each room. "To house one handicapped person per bedroom the dwelling unit must provide one hundred square feet of space per bedroom utilized for this purpose. To house two or more handicapped persons per bedroom, the dwelling unit must provide at least 80 square feet of space per handicapped person housed in the bedroom utilized for this purpose. For example, two handicapped persons would require a hundred sixty square foot bedroom."
The group home ordinance only applies to people who are handicapped. Those who are not can't have more than two non-related persons in the same residence.
RELATED STORY: Eleven people displaced after fire on 48th St.
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