ELLSWORTH&nbsp- The City Council voted unanimously to approve a new fire ordinance during their meeting Monday night.

The Fire Protection and Prevention Ordinance will take effect Sept. 1, 2008. It will require businesses and residents to receive permits from the Fire Department approving their fire alarm, sprinkler and extinguisher systems.

There will be no cost for the permits.

“We’ d like to get in and eliminate any problems before they start,” said Ellsworth Fire Chief John Marshall, who proposed the ordinance. “The changes are all about fire prevention.”

Ellsworth has operated under the state fire safety ordinance but found there were gaps in its coverage.

“There were some areas that the state codes didn’ t enforce that we wanted to,” said Marshall. “We also found glitches in the public being able to easily find information on how to get inspected.”

He said that the Fire Department did not have updated contact information for some houses and businesses, so if there was an alarm the Fire Department didn’ t know whom to call.

“Now we will be able to send a form out every year, and they can update their information,” said Marshall.

According to Marshall, the biggest changes will involve subdivisions and restaurants.

Under the new ordinance subdivisions will have to be hooked up to a municipal fire hydrant system, have residential sprinklers or have 10,000-gallon water tanks in case of a fire emergency. Marshall said subdivisions were “inadequately covered” by the previous codes.

Restaurants will require permitting for ventilation and fire extinguishing systems. Marshall said some restaurants were installing used equipment or not having new equipment installed by professionals.

“In the long run I think we are going to see a lot of improvement in fire safety,” said Marshall.

The council also voted unanimously to expand its water treatment facility on Branch Lake during the meeting.

The facility will gain a 200-foot-wide area on the shore of the lake.

“It’ s a small expansion just to make more room for the treatment process,” said City Manager Michelle Beal.

The city gave the former owner, Wayne Brenckle of Ellsworth, right of way access to Clearwater Way in return for the land.