The city where I work recently adopted the SmartCode. It's now under threat, because of complaints from the fire and rescue district that they didn't have say when the code was first considered, despite several workshops, charettes, and the like.
We're now working on the final draft of the Unified Development Code, which is a replacement for our existing hodgepodge of zoning, subdivision, sign, landscaping, stormwater and other such regulations. Over the past several months, the UDC review process increasingly follows the "design by committee" school. Fire and rescue are involved in the review process. At the last UDC review meeting, fire and rescue were concerned about the usual: street widths. They wanted a minimum 20' clear zone on all residential streets, even despite strict interconnectivity requirements, other surrounding communities that have more progressive street design standards, and so on. I offered a presentation showing other development with narrow streets, information from the CNU Emergency Response and Street Design Initiative, the "Designing Streets" guide by Mary Stalker and Tom DiGiovanni, and so on. We argued thatthat narrower streets calm traffic, increase residential property values, are less expensive for developers to build, reduces a Texas-sized urban heat island effect, and are more effective at saving lives than streets solely designed to accommodate the largest apparatus in a worst-case scenaro (on-street parking with both sides full, one end of a block blocked). The committee (the city manager and other department heads) felt the "seconds save lives" argument of fire and rescue had more merit. The result: the type of street width requirements that communities are increasingly abandoning are going to live on here, even in TND projects.
With the UDC review process winding to a close, fire and rescue wants to revisit the SmartCode. Their concern: street widths. The fire chief is very "old school", and the mindset extends to urban design. They want minimum 20' clear zones on every street, and 26' clear (!) on any street where the SmartCode permits structures over 30' tall.
In the environment I'm working in now, I have to pick and choose my battles. Unfortunately, there's too many of them, and alteration of the street assemblies in the Smart Code is one that I'm going to have to fight, despite being battle-weary. Any changes to the street assemblies would severely undermine the SmartCode and our award-winning downtown plan. I fear this is another battle we planners -- and the residents of the city -- are going to lose.